The news has been full of the camera-happy face of Slick Dick Blumenthal, the junior senator from Connecticut. For over 20 years, from 1980 to 2010, Blumenthal falsely claimed to be a Vietnam veteran, and as his ego swelled up larger and larger, a Vietnam hero. Exposed during a Senate campaign, Blumenthal was protected by a friendly media and went on to win over a non-veteran who didn’t make phony veteran claims.
Since his election he has renewed phony veteran claims, although he is careful not to do them where any citizen reporters or rolling cell-phone cameras are present.
The New York Times, which supports Blumenthal and considers his phony veteran status no big deal (no one in a decision-making post there ever served in the military, nonetheless reported on his false claims in 2010.
Former Representative Christopher Shays of Connecticut found it puzzling: over time, his friend Attorney General Richard Blumenthal kept revising how he talked about his military service during the Vietnam War. At first, in the 1980s, he was humble. He played it down, Mr. Shays recalled, characterizing it as humdrum desk work.
Over the last few years, however, more sweeping claims crept into Mr. Blumenthal’s descriptions, he said: that Mr. Blumenthal had served in Vietnam and had felt the sting of an ungrateful nation as he returned.
“He just kept adding to the story, the more he told it,” Mr. Shays said.
Mr. Shays said he became alarmed enough by the discrepancies that he at times considered mentioning the issue to Mr. Blumenthal, who on Tuesday said he took “full responsibility” for the occasions when he “misspoke” about his military history.
Shays, who reported Blumenthal’s ever-growing hero story, himself was no hero: he is a coward who dodged the Vietnam draft, like most of his generation in Congress. But he never denied that, unlike his friend Slick Dick.
A few weeks ago, Mr. Shays attended a ceremony with Mr. Blumenthal in Bridgeport, to honor workers killed during an accident. When it was his turn to speak, Mr. Blumenthal at one point brought up the subject of his military service and lamented that when “we returned from Vietnam” Americans had spit on soldiers, Mr. Shays recalled.
“He is the kind of person I cared enough about that I wish I had nipped this in the bud when it was fomenting,” Mr. Shays said.
Fortunately for Shays, and Blumenthal, the voters of Connecticut don’t care if their war heroes are real, or fake. Like Slick Dick.
Like Shays, Blumenthal’s reason for not going was pure, base cowardice. The initial Times report on his deception noted, after quoting Blumenthal saying in plain words, “I served in Vietnam,” that the facts were rather different:
There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat 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.