RSS
How Blumenthal survived the 'Vietnam' uproar: 5 theories
Polls show that Connecticut Senate hopeful Richard Blumenthal was barely hurt by accusations that he lied about his Vietnam service. Why not?
How did Blumenthal make a comeback?
How did Blumenthal make a comeback?
Getty
F

rom all appearances, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) survived his Vietnam "misstatements" scandal with minimal damage to his Senate campaign. A new post-scandal Quinnipiac poll puts Blumenthal 25 points ahead of his presumptive rival, Republican Linda McMahon, 56 percent to 31 percent. That's down slightly from his pre-scandal numbers, but hardly the "catastrophic" slippage predicted. (Watch Joe Biden poke fun at Blumenthal's Vietnam gaffe.) How did Blumenthal weather the political storm? Five theories:

1. His rival, McMahon, is a fundamentally weak opponent
McMahon, a former World Wrestling mogul, has so little government experience, says Robert Stein at The Moderate Voice, her "political résumé makes Sarah Palin look like Robert Byrd." And, as her erstwhile Republican primary opponent, Rob Simmons, notes, says Robert Costa in National Review, McMahon has "countless" tasteless "entertainment products" lurking in her closest, and really only one thing in her favor: "Money." 

2. McMahon's dirty politics are backfiring
The scandal would have done more damage to Blumenthal's standing if McMahon hadn't bragged about feeding the "flawed" Vietnam story to The New York Times, says Michael Roston at True/Slant. Her "rancorous, negative campaign against Blumenthal" didn't sit well with the local electorate.

3. His rapid damage control worked
Blumenthal looks like a safe bet in this new Quinnipiac poll, says Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, but he was neck-and-neck with McMahon in a Rasmussen poll taken right after the Vietnam story broke. What changed? "Blumenthal finally apologized (more or less)... The apology defused the news value of the scandal."

4. Vietnam's not a hot-button issue in Connecticut
Blumenthal will probably win, says David Paul Kuhn in Real Clear Politics, and he can thank his state's values system. It's the inverse of the Rand Paul situation: "It's impossible to conceive of Connecticut electing a senator who questioned the Civil Rights Act. It's equally unimaginable that Kentucky would elect a senator who lied about his Vietnam War record."

5. The national press doesn't understand Connecticut politics
Blumenthal was only ever "hopelessly damaged goods" in the mind of the sensationalist Washington media, says Colin McEnroe in The Hartford Courant. And that storyline might make sense "if you got most of your information about Connecticut politics from Georgetown dinner parties." But voters like Blumenthal in his home state. It also helps, specifically, adds Michael Tomasky in The Guardian, that Blumenthal has "done loads of work with veterans who have rallied to him."

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week