CT-Sen: Sky not falling

Looks like I overreacted in last week's post about how Connecticut Attorney General Dick Blumenthal has spoken about his Vietnam-era service record. The original New York Times account was damning, but some local media have pushed back on the story. Colin McEnroe of the Hartford Courant posted a long list of "flaws" in the New York Times piece, which McEnroe characterized as "weak journalism with very little meat on its bones." If you watch the whole video excerpted by the New York Times, you'll see that Blumenthal describes himself as "someone who served in the military during the Vietnam-era in the Marine Corps" before saying later, "we have learned something very important since the days that I served in Vietnam." Also, Blumenthal was indeed on the Harvard swim team in college (though not the team captain). The Times piece had suggested Blumenthal embellished his resume by wrongly claiming to have been on that team.

On Friday Connecticut Democrats held their state convention and nominated Blumenthal by acclamation after primary opponent Merrick Alpert withdrew his name from consideration.

Yesterday Blumenthal apologized again, telling the Hartford Courant,

"At times when I have sought to honor veterans, I have not been as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves,'' Blumenthal said in a statement emailed to the Courant late Sunday by his spokeswoman, Maura Downes. "I have firmly and clearly expressed regret and taken responsibility for my words.

"I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone,'' Blumenthal said. "I will always champion the cause of Connecticut's and our nation's veterans."

Today Blumenthal's campaign released an internal poll showing him ahead of likely Republican nominee Linda McMahon 55 percent to 40 percent, even though 91 percent of respondents had heard about the controversy regarding his statements about Vietnam. Last week the Republican-leaning pollster Rasmussen found Blumenthal ahead of McMahon 48 percent to 45 percent and leading former Representative Rob Simmons 50 percent to 39 percent. Not only could Blumenthal still win this race, he may still be favored to win. Charlie Cook declared this race a "tossup" just after the New York Times story broke.

What do you think, MyDD readers?

Tags: Richard Blumenthal, CT-Sen, 2010 elections, Congress, Senate, Connecticut, CT-Sen, 2010 elections, Congress, Senate, Connecticut (all tags)

Comments

9 Comments

CT-SEN

It could have been catastrophic, but sloppy journalism by the NYT saved him.

by rduckham 2010-05-24 08:51PM | 0 recs
LBJ, Reagan, W, Lindsay Graham all prove that embellishing your military record

isn't likely to have serious political ramifications (totally fabricating a record, like Wes Cooley did in Oregon, is another matter).

The fact is, Blumenthal is certainly not the only person who served stateside or far from any conflict during a time of war -- whether during WWII, Korea, Viet Nam or The Gulf War -- to be tempted to imply they were a bit closer to battle than they may actually have been. (I'm pretty sure I'm not the only baby boomer female to have encountered male contemporaries who hoped to impress by implying their Viet Nam "era" service was a bit more exciting than it really was.)

The fact is, the WWII generation is dying off and the Korean, Viet Nam and first Gulf wars affected only a small number of people in the generations that came after. Most of today's voters have never served in the military, and fewer and fewer have ever even been threatened by the draft.  

That means that most people today simply don't have the moral authority to be outraged by another person's avoidance or lack of service -- because they aren't likely to have served either. For the same reason, they are unlikely, except in the cause of partisanship, to be too judgemental about someone else's slight embellishment of whatever military service they did actually sign up for.

Military service -- missing, slightly exaggerated, or even honorable and heroic (just ask Kerry or McCain) simply isn't as politically significant as it once was.

 

by esmense 2010-05-24 09:35PM | 1 recs
not as bad as initially reported, but..

Quite frankly, on a relative scale, this is not on the awful side . However, Blumenthal has made a living off of imprecise wording by the people he fought against in court. For him not to be precise with language is not as excusable.

by Pravin 2010-05-24 09:46PM | 0 recs
Better now than in October.

Take a picture of that Ras poll, because it's going to be as close as Linda "WWE Raw" McMahon is going to get.

I think it is the nature of the netroots to overreact.

I know I did.When I first heard the story, I felt it was pretty damning.

I think this is a lesson for all of us not to turn on our own so quickly and wait for the facts to come out. I fear there's a terribly volatile mixture in the netroots of a decimated, dangerous, and ineffective press plus general raw emotions.

by NoFortunateSon 2010-05-24 11:44PM | 1 recs
I over reacted as well

Lord_Mike was far more right than I about the impact: though I still think this seat is in play. 

It seems less important now with Rossi entering the Washington Senate Race - the GOP clearly can take the Senate if the races break there way.

by fladem 2010-05-25 12:40AM | 2 recs
People will probably forget about this by Nov

He'll have to work harder, but he'll survive.

 

I am really pissed at the NYT though. This, ACORN, not to mention Judith Miller and Whitewater. These people are destroying America.

by bay of arizona 2010-05-25 01:46AM | 1 recs
The NYTimes gradual Drift Right

It is becoming clear the Owners of the NYT are pushing the Times to the right. There seems to be more and more of these kind of sloppy agenda driven articles appearing on it's pages. You cannot just attribute this stuff to sloppiness. Remember the wingnut agenda can only exist on Half truths and outright lies. They above all know facts are their enemy!

by Ed beckmann 2010-05-25 10:07AM | 0 recs
I myself overreacted to this at the outset......

And I wasn't alone, a LOT of us at Swing State Project overreacted.

Now, I've become sanguine and believe this isn't going to matter to all that many voters by this fall.  I think it's a short-term hit that he'll bounce back from.  The key is there must not be more revelations of lying about stuff.  If it's just his military record, and it stops there, then he's OK.  The truth is the NYT is under great legitimate fire for sloppy journalism on this, failing to reveal that Blumenthal's characterization of his military record is mixed, being truthful more often than not.  And the same story's "swim team" hit was dead wrong, as Blumenthal it turns out WAS on the Harvard swim team, and there's no evidence Blumenthal himself ever claimed to have been the team captain.

That the polling still shows up on top, even in Rasmussen, makes me feel pretty good.

And McMahon as the GOP nominee is a great gift.  CT Rethugs are very stupid.  Their choice of nominee leaves me convinced Blumenthal ultimately will win in a walk.

by DCCyclone 2010-05-25 10:17AM | 0 recs
"I was the Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year."
Illinois Republican Senate candidate admits to error on Navy award

(Obama's seat)

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/05/29/AR2010052903510.html

by QTG 2010-05-30 08:07AM | 0 recs

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