Honesty means more than simply not lying, but Richard Blumenthal (D-buh-bye) failed even the easy test of not lying:
“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. [emphasis added]During Vietnam would have parsed as true, but even that phrasing would have left room for deceit. During the Vietnam era would have been still better, with the word era flagging the statement for a bit more interpretive analysis.
Blumenthal could claim - and he has - that he simply misspoke. But there are too many instances of self-interested silence in the face of falsehood to credit this as the slip of his tongue.
The root problem, which should be fatal to his candidacy for Senate, is that Blumenthal has shown a life-long pattern of failure to correct the record clearly and forthrightly. He continues his deceit with this bullshit:
“I don’t know if we tried to do so or not,” he said. He added that he “can’t possibly know what is reported in all” the articles that are written about him.Bullshit. Politicians care deeply and obsessively how they're covered in the press. They may not see every single article, but they or their staff see all the big stories, especially those in major publications. Nowadays, they all have Google alerts to keep them on top of media all the way down to the smallest blog.
The emotional impact of his reserve service and of seeing the postwar treatment of veterans from in-country could still be true. He could still tell it honestly from the perspective of a reservist. Instead, his claimed experience sounds more like echoing of urban legends than first-hand witnessing to the travails of returning vets.
Here's the principle: If you have to choose your words very carefully to permit listeners to take away a wrong impression, an impression that you want them to retain, you're lying. Never mind that advertisers do this all the time. They're lying too. It's just that your lie while seeking a Senate seat is more corrosive and damaging.
This is especially true of living a lie about being at risk of dying in the service of your country. That's just something that no one should ever fake - or acquiesce in faking.
Even Duhbya didn't try to get away with morphing his defense of Texas and Alabama against the world-wide threat of the Viet Cong Air Force into service in country in Vietnam. Like Blumenthal, he did try to get away with claiming he received no special treatment, also false but on a much smaller scale.
It was John Kerry who put aside offers of special treatment and actually served in Vietnam. That didn't win the Presidency for him, but he at least still has his honesty intact about that very important touchstone of recent American history, no matter how hard Karl Rove and the Swift Boat Liars tried to steal it from him by their own campaign of lies.
Blumenthal should go. But he's obviously too vain to give in to that inconvenient truth.
(h/t to this great post on No More Mister Nice Blog)
Update (5/19): More feet of clay on the Republican side. Lindsay Graham (R-wingy but not wingy enough for teabaggers) repeatedly and persistently claimed to be a veteran of Iraq I, despite never serving in country. (h/t Atrios)