Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Shameless Dick Blumenthal

U.S. Senator Dick Blumenthal, for 20 years Attorney General in Connecticut, has approved many a press release in his day. Indeed, he may have underwritten most among the flood of media releases issued in his name before leaving his cushy spot as Attorney General and becoming a member of the U.S. Senate club. While in college at Harvard, he was the editor of the Harvard Crimson and reported on several key stories of the day, among them a trial in New Haven of Black Panther terrorists.

Over a long period in the public eye, Mr. Blumenthal has acquired certain journalistic talents, which have aided him in cranking out emotionally appealing lede paragraphs.

Here are the first three graphs of a column written by Mr. Blumenthal and printed in a Hartford paper following the defeat in the U.S. Senate of a very mild, almost inoffensive, bill that would have required background checks for gun purchases:

“On Wednesday, the Senate said no to America. But the American people will not take no for an answer.

“The first words I heard when Vice President Joe Biden banged the gavel to end the vote Wednesday on the gun purchasing background check bill were, ‘Shame on you.’ They were from a rightfully angry mother of a Virginia Tech student who, six years ago this week, was shot twice in the head. This heartbroken mother had the courage to say what all of us fighting for background checks and other common-sense gun laws were feeling.

“It was a shameful day for our nation.”

One may assume as a matter of course that anyone who opposes Mr. Blumenthal is shameful, but the man who shamelessly lied about his non-service in Vietnam was not alone in his aspersions. In the course of a few hours, everyone was sounding the same toscin, including the visibly angry president and vice president. But it was not a shameful day for Mr. Blumenthal, who placed himself on the shameless side of the bill. Along with U.S. Senator Chris Murphy, Mr. Blumenthal took the lead in the Senate agitating for passage of the doomed bill. In his home state, Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Murphy lent their prestige as U.S. Senators to a successful effort in passing a gun restriction bill that has been described approvingly by its proponents as the toughest gun restriction bill in the nation, outpacing even Chicago, murder capital of the United States.

To his credit, Mr. Blumenthal knocked, if only by implication, his Democratic confreres in the Senate. The Senate needed four more Democratic votes to pass a much watered down version of Connecticut’s strongest in the nation gun restriction bill; and, as it happened, four Democrats in the Democratic controlled chamber voted against the measure. If shame could have been apportioned in the Senate, the four deserters should have received the largest portion of it. Lacking the four necessary votes, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid – who also voted against the measure – pulled the bill. Mr. Reid said he hadn’t voted for the measure on the floor so that he might vote against it later. The other three Democratic Senators who voted against the measure, Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Murphy would have us believe, did so because they were palsied with fear owing to almost certain campaign opposition from the National Rifle Association (NRA), which both Mr. Murphy and Mr. Blumenthal have characterized as a toothless and very much overrated paper tiger.

In comparison with the gun restriction bill passed in Connecticut, the bill withdrawn by Mr. Reid may accurately be compared to a paper tiger; which is another way of saying that the bill, had it passed through Congress as written, would not have addressed the root causes of the mass shootings that occurred both in Sandy Hook and on the campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University in Blacksburg, Virginia, 15 years ago, when a senior at the school, Seung-Hui Cho, shot and killed 32 people and wounded 17 others in two separate attacks about two hours apart before committing suicide, still the deadliest shooting incident by a single gunman in U.S. history.

Following an exhaustive investigation, it was determined that Virginia Tech, owing to federal privacy laws, was unaware that Mr. Cho had received special education support while in high school, that he had been accused of stalking two female students, that he had suffered from an anxiety disorder and that a Virginia special justice had declared Mr. Cho mentally ill, ordering him to attend treatment, an order disregarded by his mother. The bill supported by Mr. Blumenthal and Mr. Murphy that went down to dusty defeat in the U.S. Senate did not strum any mental illness chords; it did not substantially alter previous legislation that prevented Virginia Tech from acquiring access to medical information available to high school administrators; it was simply a bill intended to close a gap in background checks.

The rejected bill provided little more than an addendum to a largely unenforced bill already on the books, H.R.2640, the provisions of which have been studiously ignored even in Connecticut, which may now boast that it has the toughest gun regulations, rarely to be enforced, in the nation. The bill defeated in Washington was little more than a Potemkin Village front that may in the future serve as political luster to politicians seeking office. Mr. Blumenthal should have been ashamed to prop up the farce.
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