I served in the military during the Vietnam War, but I did not serve in Vietnam.
Whenever I speak or write about my service during the Vietnam War era, I generally try to make it clear that I did not serve in combat there.
Apparently not so with Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut who is running for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Senator Christopher J. Dodd.
The New York Times has just broken the news that there is one little problem with Mr. Blumenthal’s implicit or explicit claims that he served in Vietnam:
Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat who is now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.
While Blumenthal did serve in the Marine Reserve, he never served in Vietnam.
In a lengthy and blistering report, the Times says, in part:
Sometimes his remarks have been plainly untrue, as in his speech to the group in Norwalk. At other times, he has used more ambiguous language, but the impression left on audiences can be similar.
In an interview on Monday, the attorney general said that he had misspoken about his service during the Norwalk event and might have misspoken on other occasions.
“My intention has always been to be completely clear and accurate and straightforward, out of respect to the veterans who served in Vietnam,” he said.
But an examination of his remarks at the ceremonies shows that he does not volunteer that his service never took him overseas. And he describes the hostile reaction directed at veterans coming back from Vietnam, intimating that he was among them.
When it comes to people, actions or statements that attack, discredit or, as may be the case here, misrepresent service or actions in the military, I don’t care if we are talking about a Republican or about a Democrat.
I hope that Mr. Blumenthal can still convincingly explain the inconsistencies. It would be a very sad occasion otherwise.
The stakes are high, for Blumenthal personally and for the Senatorial elections.
The Senate race in Connecticut is likely to be a closely watched contest. Democrats were relieved when Mr. Dodd stepped aside this year and believed that Mr. Blumenthal, with his long record and high name recognition, assured them of the seat. He is considered the front-runner in the Democratic primary race. But Republicans have a spirited race of their own. The field includes Linda McMahon, who along with her husband, Vince, founded the World Wrestling Federation, and Rob Simmons, a Vietnam combat veteran.
The author is a retired U.S. Air Force officer and a writer.