Blumenthal: Why did he lie about Vietnam?

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal seemed set to win a U.S. Senate seat in November until he was caught embellishing his military record.  

“To fib is human,” said John Schwartz in The New York Times. But for Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, it may also be a career killer. Blumenthal, who appeared destined to win a U.S. Senate seat in November, was forced to admit last week that he has occasionally embellished his military record, suggesting publicly that he had served “in” Vietnam when in fact he had served stateside in the Marine Reserve during the war. “On a few occasions, I have misspoken about my service,” Blumenthal said, “and for that I take full responsibility.” Blumenthal, 64, now begs our pardon, said The Wall Street Journal in an editorial. But as a publicity-hungry prosecutor in the mold of the now-disgraced Eliot Spitzer, “he has accused hundreds of people and businesses” of fraud for statements “less egregious than his own untruthful claims.” Clearly, Blumenthal lacks the “character” the public has a right to expect in a U.S. senator.

That’s far too harsh, said Margaret Carlson in All of Blumenthal’s campaign and biographical material states his military service correctly, and until his recent exaggerations, he did so in speeches, too. His reputation, till now, has been that of a straight arrow with an incredible record of achievement: magna cum laude at Harvard, editor of the Yale Law Journal, a Supreme Court clerkship, White House aide, and then a successful political career. Unlike many politicians who were eligible (Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton come to mind), he actually served in the military during Vietnam. So why the recent deception? My guess is that he was acting “not from the pathology of the liar but from that of the perfectionist who wanted to erase the blemish only he could see.”

Subscribe to The Week

Escape your echo chamber. Get the facts behind the news, plus analysis from multiple perspectives.


Sign up for The Week's Free Newsletters

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

From our morning news briefing to a weekly Good News Newsletter, get the best of The Week delivered directly to your inbox.

Sign up
To continue reading this article...
Continue reading this article and get limited website access each month.
Get unlimited website access, exclusive newsletters plus much more.
Cancel or pause at any time.
Already a subscriber to The Week?
Not sure which email you used for your subscription? Contact us