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.
Of course he is devolving to the McGovern coalition -- he has used the McGovern strategy to get the nomination; run as a reformer against your own party (in order to try to attract independents and moderate Republicans).
In '72 that meant lumping "big labor," and labor's rank and file, together with "big business" as equal evils.
In 2008 it means lumping the Clinton administration with Bush as equal evils -- and lumping working class Democrats, especially older working class women who have been a mainstay of the party in recent years, with the white Southern voters who (across all classes but most especially middle class and affluent) left the Democratic party 40 years ago.
Just as in '72, this is a very divisive strategy that is likely to undermine his ability to win in November. Like McGovern's, his strategy depends on large numbers of young voters showing up (something they rarely do) and on large numbers of (affluent) independents and moderate Republicans sticking with him in the general. In other words, it's a strategy that depends on uncharacteristic behavior from some of the least dependable groups of voters.
And neither are you. You acted arrogantly and now you want to use your youth to hide behind. How arrogant. It's all about "me,me,me." And falsely believing in your own goodness and light.
The Obama campaign has characterized Clinton in very ugly ways -- and you stood up and used her forum as an opportunity to publicize and propogate those ugly characterizations, to throw mud on her character to her face. Now you are offended because she doesn't see how wise you are and agree with you?
Your candidate has not been a "leader" in the Democratic party. He has not slogged away for years, taking heavy fire, being viciously and personally vilified and yet still pressing on to make progress on difficult issues like health care, micro financing for the poor, broader access to education, the rights of vulnerable and disabled children, legal representation for the poor, human rights, etc.. He has never stood before the leaders of repressive regimes and challenged them to understand that women's rights ARE human rights. He has, instead, cowered in front of a gender bigoted media, has been happy to benefit from, has refused to condemn, the bigotry displayed not simply to Clinton but to ALL women who support her -- women whose votes have been most important in keeping his party, and issues of social justice and civil rights, viable during the last 3 decades of an increasingly conservative political consensus.
Clinton gave you a respectful answer. Much more respectful than your disrespectful and false question and insinuations deserved. Now, you have responded to that answer in a most callow and silly way.
Obama may not have an obligation to denounce this particular event, but he does have an obligation to denounce the outrageous gender and class bigotry that has played such a large and ugly part in this campaign season's dynamics.
He must make a speech that demonstrates he takes these issues as seriously as he took the issues raised by the controversy over Rev. Wright. He must show that his concerns about bigotry and social injustice aren't simply self-interested or race limited.
I fear that the reason he doesn't do so is because he thinks doing so will offer some kind of advantage to or defense of his opponent. Or, worse, because he believes that this state of affairs works to his benefit.
If that is the way he thinks it is short-sighted, and perhaps revealing of a lack of depth and understanding -- the kind of understanding that will be needed to make his "unity" theme more than empty rhetoric.
Hillary doesn't require his defense. But her supporters and the principles of equal representation and political participation -- far from being achieved and in danger of being set back by the Democratic party's complacent acceptance of the gender hostility aimed at both the first "viable" female candidate and her supporters -- do require his commitment. He can not afford to be lukewarm on these issues (toward which he has so far been very cool) -- he needs to show passion, understanding and genuine commitment to the women who have kept this party viable, and whose votes any democrat will need to win in November.
I don't think Obama represents the Dean wing of the party. Dean drew in a much broader group of young people, not so elite class specific.
I'm a precinct captain in a working class Seattle neighborhood. Dean won our precinct in 2004 because lots of young people showed up, most of them working class people living in the neighborhood's many new, large scale apartment complexes, all of them having never participated before. (My husband and I run a company that manufactures after-market auto parts. We first learned about Dean, and became supporters, at the urging of our youthful employees -- working class men and women mostly under 25 who had never before expressed anything but cynicism about politics.)
Obama won our precinct this year with an entirely different Demographic -- a large group of middle-aged white men, new voters, who were mostly voting againt Clinton. We had almost no turnout among the under 30 crowd in our neighborhood).
I've been voting since '72 through various wars, military crisis and actions -- and, regretfully, I've never seen the American electorate choose the anti-war candidate, even when the war was extremely unpopular.
They'll choose a candidate who claims to have a plan to end the war, but only if he is someone who is also perceived as, and has some record that indicates, he is nonetheless "strong on defense."
Obama's problem is that even if people agree that his speech a few years ago showed good "judgement" in terms of the war (many, of course, won't even care about the speech this long after the fact) he still presents too little history for voters to use to judge his commitment to "keeping the country strong." That lack of resume will allow McCain and the Republicans to paint him almost anyway they want -- not simply as someone who smartly objected to the mistake this war turned out to be, but someone who is anti-war, perhaps even anti-military, in general, and who perhaps can't be counted on to stand up and defend America when necessary.
I'd like to add something here; I have always suspected that the establishment Democrats -- the old Bulls like Kennedy, Kerry and Leahy and the mushy Midwesterners like Daschle and Gephart -- who were most behind pushing Obama to run this early in his career, against the first serious female contender, weren't afraid that she would lose as much as they were afraid of how she would win -- with, most likely, the biggest gender gap we have ever seen. I think they fear that her win would cement the image of the Democratic party as "The Mommy Party" and make it even more difficult for male Democrats to get votes from male voters in the future.
I think their fears are exaggerated, but not unfounded. Hillary would win, the first time around at least, with unusually strong support from women, and most likely even weaker support from men than Democrats normally get, especially with McCain as her opponent. But, I think once that barrier is broken, and the unprecedented (and therefore feared) has become a reality, cultural attitudes will relax and change -- and fears about the Democrats as a "Mommy" party will subside. I think, by changing the way we view leadership and putting to rest the last 50 years of "mine is bigger than yours" politicking, it will actually benefit male Democratic candidates, and lessen the gender gap, in the future.
Women will come out in much higher than usual numbers with a woman on the ballot. Will young people come out in much higher than usual numbers for Obama? Historically, Democratic candidates who enjoyed success in the primaries with young voters have not seen that participation maintained in the general election. I have also read that participation by young voters in the primaries has been falling off consistently since Iowa. I just don't trust a strategy based on young people and independents -- the most undependable voters of all.
This is based on reading Obama supporters' comments, diaries, commentaries online. The assertion of this post, for instance, is that Clinton supporters are "haters." That's a pretty inexperienced and juvenile assumption. Whether the writer is 17 or 70.
These are common assumptions I have seen asserted over and over again by Obama supporters; Clinton voters are "racists," "rednecks," "trailer trash," "low information voters," "emotional," "hormonal," "gyno" voters, etc., etc., and much, much worse. But all variatons on a similar theme -- reflecting class, gender and/or age bias.
I am being charitable in assuming that the writers of such things are inexperienced and young, don't know much about the last 30-40 years of history of the party they claim to support, and haven't had time to have much experience or contact with people of different backgrounds.
Many Obama supporters express how enthusiastic they are about their first chance to vote for an African American political candidate -- it doesn't seem to occur to them that many older Democrats have been supporting African Americans in the political system for at least the last half century -- and that if they hadn't been we wouldn't now be on the verge of nominating an African American for president.
Once again, such a lack of historical perspective is usually a fault of the young.
The use of race baiting in any campaign should be of great concern to people who call themselves liberal or progressive. If you don't want such things discussed, perhaps you are in the wrong party.
Many Obama supporters are young, many have never voted before (and often weirdly assume that none of their older, fellow Democrats have ever supported African American politicians in the past), few have much first hand experience with racial issues and almost none have ever been activist on those issues, nor do they, in general, have experience of the world or people. They comment based on a lot of assumptions about Clinton supporters -- a very high number of whom have been long time activists in matters of social justice and civil rights -- or anyone who simply sees Obama in a less heroic light than they do, that most often appear to be based on their own prejudices, rather than knowledge, experience or thoughtfulness.
It it is hard to credit a "movement" as unifying when so many members of that supposed movement casually,constantly, and often unconsciously, reveal their own bigotry -- especially class, gender and age bigotry.
Instead of self-righteously judging everyone else as hateful, perhaps you should look at your own self and attitudes -- and your own prejudices.