Sunday, June 13, 2010

Blumenthal to Courant: Bug Off!

John Lender, the Hartford Courant’s investigative reporter, caught a "mislead" on the part of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in information he had provided for a biographical listing in the annual Martindale-Hubble Law Directory of attorneys at private law firms.

Summarizing his military service, Blumenthal offered: “With USMC [U.S. Marine Corp], active duty and reserve. 1970-1976.”

In Lender’s Sunday “Government Watch” column, an opinion on the misstatement was solicited from Randall Collins of Waterford, a Vet whose “active duty” included a stretch in Vietnam in the late 60’s.

"’I think [active duty] was probably put in there to be misleading, based on all these other things,’ said Randall H. Collins of Waterford, who served in Vietnam in the late 1960s in the U.S. Army military intelligence division. An unaffiliated voter, Collins, 65, who is Waterford's superintendent of schools, is in the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, established in 2005 to honor those who served honorably and ‘continue to serve and inspire their fellow man.’

"’I was repulsed by his comments’ in the 2008 videotaped speech, said Collins. ‘I consider it a lie, not a misstatement.’

"As to the Martindale-Hubbell entry, he said: ‘I think it's both accurate and misleading: It's true that boot camp [training] is considered active duty,’ Collins said, ‘but when people think of active duty, they think of something longer than six months…. They think of a longer period of time’ of ‘full-time’ military service – not part-time reserve status in this country for six years with weekend duty once a month, and two-week drills in the summer.

"’It's hard to say it's not technically accurate,’ Collins said. ‘I really think it would be insignificant if it weren't for the comments he made publicly about his duty. But when you contextualize it in a pattern, it becomes a little more suspicious. Rightly or wrongly, you read into his motivation of why he put it there.’"
Lender’s report was what is called in the business “balanced.”

Another Vietnam vet, Jack Dougherty of Branford, was quoted in the report as saying:

“’At that time, the reservists and the guys who were going to be there forever and ever were side by side in the same, exact boot camp,’ said Dougherty, who works as a mechanical engineer and is an unaffiliated voter. Dougherty said that the reservists ‘served their active duty for six months. The balance would be … reserve status,’ with periodic activities such as drills.

“Asked what he thought of the recent disclosures about Blumenthal's misstatements, Doughterty said, ‘I'm not bent around the axle about it like some people are.’ He said, ‘I don't know if he misspoke in the past,’ but ‘my personal opinion is that he's a nice guy and does a great job in the category we find him in,’ as attorney general."
Another Marine, Bob Janick, was in a forgiving mood:

“Another member of the Veterans Hall of Fame, Marine Corps Vietnam veteran Bob Janicki of Guilford, said that he has ‘struggled for years with imposters,’ and noted that recently he'd said after Blumenthal's apology, ‘I don't forgive him.’

“But now, Janicki, 63, a Republican voter who works for the federal Veterans Administration, said he is writing a letter to newspaper editors about a conversation he had since then with Blumenthal. Part of it says: ‘Mr. Blumenthal shared with me his personal feelings on what he may have said over the years, and I truly feel that he was honestly sincere, and I believe him. Personally I am not about to go back in time and review every quote presented by the media. I will never trust them, to determine if they were in context or taken out of context.’"
Lender wanted to probe Blumenthal’s opinion on all this. In the past, Blumenthal never had been hesitant in sharing his opinion concerning cases he was prosecuting with the state’s media. In fact, his press releases over the 20 year period Blumenthal served as attorney general, bundled together, would make a hefty package that Blumenthal spokeswoman and advisor Marla Romash, who used to write for the Courant, would have a tough time bench pressing.

Romash brushed him off: “The Courant had asked to interview Blumenthal, but Romash returned the call and responded to questions, saying, ‘He's addressed all these issues.’"

Over in Torrington, the Torrington Register Citizen reports, Blumenthal left a public stage with his pants on fire rather than submitting to the indignity of a few questions.

And what was it, anyway, Lender wanted to ask the suddenly camera shy Blumenthal?

Lender, who does his homework, notes:

“The 1991 volume of the who's-who-style directory of lawyers in private practice was the last of seven or so annual editions covering Blumenthal's time from 1984 to 1990 as a partner in the Stamford law firm of Silver Golub & Teitell; that was his last job before winning the 1990 election for attorney general and assuming office in January 1991. Earlier editions of the directory worded Blumenthal's military history one word differently — with the word "in" instead of "and," as follows: ‘With USMC., active duty in reserve, 1970-1976.’ Romash had no explanation for that difference.”
Gotta watch those prepositions. Mark Twain used to say that “the difference between the right word and almost the right word is the difference between a lightning bug and a lightning bolt.”

It was not a lightning bug that struck Blumenthal when the said at least five times that he had served in Vietnam.

Twain, by the way, would have had no difficulty distinguishing between a lie and a misspeak. Pity he is not writing commentary for the Hartford Courant.
Post a Comment