Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Blumie Takes A hit

Here is Kevin Rennie’s response to a stunning disclosure made by the New York Times, on the front page no less, concerning Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s non-service in Vietnam:

“Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s campaign for the United States Senate has been holed below the waterline by a devastating New York Times expose of Blumenthal’s false claims to have served in Vietnam. The piece, fed to the paper by the Linda McMahon Seante campaign, is accompanied by a chilling 2008 video of Blumenthal blithely making the false claim. The ‘brilliant’ Blumenthal provides a stunningly inadequate response, with the universal weasel word ‘misspoken’ appearing in the piece. It’s followed by a non-sequitur quote: ‘My intention has always been to be completely clear and accurate and straightforward, out of respect to the veterans who served in Vietnam,’ he said.”

And the story arrives on the equivalent of today’s breakfast table, a packed e-mail cache, with a video showing the U.S. senate wannabe declaiming on his service in Vietnam.

Rennie’s blog is accompanied with a photo showing the Titanic – or is it the Andrea Doria? – slipping below the waves, swallowed up in a tragic black night, light a’beaming, party goers, one supposes, deprived by the sinking of the ship of their revelry, their hour of joy.

Vietnam – or more precisely, the false claim to have served in Vietnam – is still claiming its casualties.

The man Blumenthal hopes to replace in the senate, Chris Dodd, spent his Vietnam years serving in the Peace Corp in the Dominican Republic in the 60's, a few miles from Fidel Castro’s festive paradise; but Dodd never claimed to served in Vietnam, while Blumenthal indisputably did.

President Clinton, who clearly avoided the draft, after sticking his toe in the anti-war movement and then wraping himself in a Rhode’s scholarship in England where, safe from whizzing bullets, he protested the war, never claimed to have served in Vietnam, while Blumenthal indisputably did.

Others on this route have found the door opening to a bright political future tightly shut against them.

Blumenthal plans later today to hold a news conference, with veterans serving as a patriotic and decorative backdrop. His most recent claim the New York Times story is an outrageous distortion is itself 1) outrageous and 2) a distortion.

MSNBC’s Morning Joe discusses the issue here.

Famed Watergate reporter Bob Woodward weighs in here.

The question that hangs like a Damoclean sword above Blumenthal’s head this morning is: Will Blumenthal have a future in the US senate? Has the fat lady sung?

14 comments:

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

It's bad, but I'm not sure it's the headshot. There's basically a handful of times where it's questionable whether he was trying to insinuate that he had served IN Vietnam, and one where he DEFINITELY says he was in vietnam, which I assume will be attributed to a slip of the tongue. He's never made reference to a Vietnam tour a central part of his profile.

And Blumie's chosen method for avoiding the draft is less similar to Bubba's, and almost straight from the George W. Bush playbook (once you can defer no more, join a reserve unit that will never be sent overseas so that you can get the added bonus of handsome pictures in uniform).

Without the Dick's missleading quotes and vague references to Vietnam, this is a nonstory. Baby boomers are becoming a larger and more powerful voting bloc (as they trudge toward senior citizenry), and if there's one thing they sympathize with, it's draft dodging during Nam'.

It goes without saying that Simmons would have an easier time than McMahon running with this (Linda, with all due respect to women, who don't need to sign up for the selective service, had nothing to dodge and has never served any cause other than herself). The bizarre thing about this year's Republican crowd is that the two candidates who I think will eventually emerge from the primaries, McMahon and Foley, are the weakest candidates in the general election. Both Simmons and Fedele would be much more palatable to the great mass of unaffiliated voters.

Don Pesci said...

Not a head shot: I try to avoid predictive speculation; there’s no future in it, unless you're a pollster or Dick Morris. It will depend on the buzz. Other pols have been sent to Valhalla for doing this. We’ll see.

The Real Bob Anthony said...

Fuzzy, you have forgotten about Peter Schiff. Or does even visitors to CT Commentary think Schiff is too radical?


By the way, Fox "News" did a story on this live at top hour. Carl "My claim to fame was at WFEA Manchester, NH" Cameron. He called McMahon the Democrat. She is a Republican...and a RINO NEOCON at that.

Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...
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Don Pesci said...

Bob,

Just to be clear, the two Scarborough links in the text above were imported AFTER Fuzzy made his comments. It’s a fast unfolding story.

The most interesting response so far was that of Woodward, who was trying to explain why Blumenthal said he served in Vietnam on some occasions and on other occasions as plainly said that he did not serve in Vietnam.

Blumenthal got caught up in his own self serving narrative, Woodward speculated. He was striving for perfection, the perfect resume. When he tried out the line on veterans groups and no one from the media checked the facts, he let it go – when he should have corrected the misimpressions that he generated.

That seems a plausible explanation. Narcissus did, after all, fall in love with his own image in the water. Falling into it, he drowned. There’s a lesson in there somewhere.

John Sweat said...

Dear Fuzzy,

The narrative is tedious - nothing like a lie that can be repeated over and over.

George W. Bush had volunteered to go to Vietnam as part of his service in the Texas Air National Guard, but that he was turned down because other pilots were more experienced,

Read more: http://newsbusters.org/blogs/brad-wilmouth/2009/08/25/fncs-goldberg-bush-volunteered-vietnam-cbss-mapes-deliberately-omitte#ixzz0oIeH1gmX

Sorry, no equivalency here - Bush never said he served in Vietnam and Palin never saw Alaska from her window

apo's to Don - please remove if i'm off track.

Anonymous said...

So, I guess "misstating" is the new slang for "lying". For example, Bubba "misstated" about having sex with that woman. Spitzer "misstated" the facts surrounding his tryst(s) with a hooker. Biden "misstated" going to Katie's Diner (which reportedly does not exist). So it goes, find a nice warm & fuzzy word and its all better. Will someone please remind these pillars of the earth that there is something called personal responsibility, which - I believe - should compel one to be truthful? Perhaps I've misstated something here?

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

John Sweat... what I was saying was that trying to wiggle his way out of going to Vietnam, in and of itself, would not be damning giving how most boomers' feel about that war.

Without claiming that I necessarily subscribe to his view, Colin McEnroe makes some salient points in a fairly interesting blog post about this. There's only the one concrete instance where there's video of Blumenthal saying that he was "in" Vietnam. In the other instances, the references are vague enough that they are open to some interpretation, and in others are openly hearsay.

But people, especially in the blogosphere/newsosphere who really pay attention to current events, should honestly ask themselves whether, prior to the New York Times article, they had somehow formed the opinion that Dick Blumenthal had served in Vietnam. The answer is probably "no." I would submit then, that if Dick Blumenthal has conspired to mislead voters into thinking that he was a combat veteran, he has done a piss poor job of it.

The thing is that Don usually has some very legitimate criticisms of Dick. It is frustrating that they aren't reported more widely in the media. But this Vietnam story is rather a symptom of the same ill; very little first hand reporting has been done on this... local papers are simply regurgitating what the New York Times printed, which in turn essentially followed a road map provided by Linda McMahon.

All that being said, as the fates would have it, the Democrats suddenly have the possibility of a viable replacement: Susan Bysiewicz.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

For more evidence of the sh&t job Blumenthal did duping the world into thinking that he served in Vietnam, consider this excerpt from the day:

"[Republican candidate for senate Rob] Simmons, who has appeared with Blumenthal at numerous events honoring troops and the military, said he did not recall ever hearing Blumenthal assert that he’d fought in Vietnam. On the contrary, Simmons said, he has long had an accurate understanding of Blumenthal’s experience during the Vietnam war years: the future attorney general served in the Marine Corps Reserve."

This is not some diabolical narrative that Blumenthal has been crafting for years.

Don Pesci said...

People are having a difficult time figuring out the psychology that lies behind all this. I doubt Blumenthal misspoke. Somewhere in this steaming political pot there is intent to deceive. I was surprised to hear Bob Woodward talk sensibly about it on the Morning Joe show, because he is not familiar with the nuances of Connecticut politics, and he has had only episodic exposure to the ubiquitous Blumenthal. His theory is that Blumenthal was weaving two different narratives: one in which he had no direct contact in Vietnam, and another in which he had established a sentimental contact with the suffering in that war.

Well now, the imagination is a subtle seducer. What it presents to us – if it is pleasant and useful – we wish to be so. And when Blumenthal was speaking to certain groups, he gave rein to his second, imaginative narrative, provided there were no reporters present. To me, this is the key to the man – the tug of imagination and his persistence.

It seems to me that this kind of psychological rendering accounts for the facts of the case.

It also explains why he so terribly misconstrued events in the New England Pellet case, a terrible injustice that.

Fuzzy, who has bothered to read what I have written about that case and others, will understand. There is a bit of disturbing narcissism in his character that shapes the world to his idea of himself. Many politicians are like this. Caligula, for example. represented the triumph of imagination over a world of dissapointing facts.

Fuzzy Dunlop said...

Don,
I think that I probably disagree with you, ideologically, more often than not. I enjoy reading you though, for precisely that reason; you advocate ideas, not people. I was involved in politics for some time, but now less so. You're point about political narcissism struck a chord, and reminded me of a lesson hard learned; it is best to believe in ideas, not politicians who peddle them. The politican will always disappoint you.

The personality flaw you identify is not a partisan thing, it is part of the human condition, and a motivating force in the vanity fair of politics.

Don Pesci said...

Fuzzy,

You’re right about the personality flaw. It is especially fatal in politicians who have shaped their own political persona, like Blumenthal. Fictional elements are marvelously woven by the imagination into our own personal narratives, which is why GB Shaw mistrusted autobiographies. He said that the best biography of Napoleon would have been written by his butler. Modesty, a disappearing virture, usually keeps all this in check.

All of us are here to learn from our mistakes. Blumenthal has a long way to go.

Anonymous said...

Thankx Don . . . The joke has always been on us the the people of CT . . where for 20 years the man has sat in his clocktower and gone "PR" "bullying" without oversight . . . he simply has taken old school "ya cant fight city hall" . . . or "its all good" expecting no one to test him and used that to his advantage . . BUT . . those days are over . . . THANK GOD . . . . and thankx to yer column and the people associated with it . . . . I don't have it from the horses mouth . . . but I have emails from a 3rd party CT miltary person where accoding to his personal contact w/ Mr AGB. AGB bragadociously and contuinously throughtout the emails maintaieed an inflated connection to his service . . . anyway . . . in my opinion the press has gotten all of this 100% correct and this story is not one of isolated slip ups. He has just never had to "man-up" until now. So no-one stop the presses!

There is much more on different lack(s) of oversight of AGB Actions . . . that still amazes me the public is not informed on . . . . but hopefully its coming

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