Commentary says Blumenthal's Vietnam response lacking

By John O'Brien | May 25, 2010


CHICAGO (Legal Newsline) - Dan Proft, a political commentator and former candidate for governor in Illinois, is not satisfied with Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal's initial explanation of his false claims of serving in Vietnam.

Croft released a commentary Tuesday in response to the recent controversy surrounding Blumenthal, who is running for U.S. Senate. A New York Times report said Blumenthal obtained five deferrals that kept him from being sent to Vietnam but at least twice claimed he served there.

"When it recently came to light that he in fact did not serve in Vietnam, Blumenthal suggested it was nothing more than 'a few misplaced words' that were 'absolutely unintentional,'" wrote Proft, who received nearly 8 percent of the vote in Illinois' February primary.

"It turned out that Blumenthal, the beneficiary of numerous deferments, actually served in Washington, D.C., as part of a Marine Reserve unit that, according to the New York Times, focused on local projects like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.

"While U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were beating back communist forces during the Tet Offensive, Dick Blumenthal was back home winning the Tots Offensive with G.I. Joe action figures and Easy Bake Ovens."

Blumenthal did e-mail an apology that was published by the Hartford Courant this week.

"I truly regret offending anyone. I will always champion the cause of Connecticut's and our nation's veterans," it said.

Blumenthal said last week he simply "misspoke" when making the comments. A Rasmussen Reports poll released Thursday showed his popularity slipping.

The deferrals allowed him to continue his schooling and begin his professional career, the Times reported.

The report notes remarks made by Blumenthal at a 2008 ceremony for veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers.

"We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam," Blumenthal said.

"And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it - Afghanistan or Iraq - we owe our military men and women unconditional support."

The report adds that at another rally in 2003, Blumenthal said, "When we returned, we saw nothing like this. Let us do better by this generation of men and women."

Proft says Blumenthal's first response should have been better.

"Blumenthal is so typical of the phony Sir Galahads who populate public offices," he wrote.

"Because they believe they are the standard of purity, politicians like Blumenthal cannot bring themselves to sincerely admit to and repent for bad acts. Instead they offer feeble, disembodied non-apologies for their actions...

"Or, like Blumenthal, they make a generic categorical statement followed immediately by self-indulgent puffery -- 'I take full responsibility for those times that I have misspoken...but I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to my country.'

"People have a vast capacity to rationalize their actions. If, however, Connecticut residents are unable to rationalize voting for Blumenthal, we could be encouraged to believe there is a limit to that capacity."

From Legal Newsline: Reach John O'Brien by e-mail at jobrienwv@gmail.com.

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