Connecticut’s Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal’s news conference in which he attempted to defuse the scandal over his lies about his military service provided a new version of the “suffering wife” who routinely stands by her husband as he owns up to misdeeds.
But instead of having his spouse stand painfully by him as he walked back what he now describes as “a few misplaced words,” Blumenthal had a chorus line of veterans behind him at the press conference that took place at the West Hartford Veterans of Foreign Wars hall. And rather than keep silent as he at first spoke at length touting his record and then briefly owned up to the problem, the veterans in attendance cheered Blumenthal’s statement and frequently punctuated it with applause and Marine chants.
The brief press conference that Blumenthal ended abruptly was mostly devoted to praise of his own actions in which he claimed that his military service was voluntary. His statement admitting guilt was as follows: “On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service and I take full responsibility. I will not let anyone take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.” He gave no reason for his lies about having been in Vietnam and offered no apology. And his friends behind him — who might otherwise be expected to take a dim view of those who falsely claim war-veteran status — demanded none. But the proposition that this group of veterans is representative of others around the state is yet to be proved.
This performance shows that Blumenthal’s intention is to stay in the Senate race and that he hopes the storm will blow over. However, as the New York Times story that blew the lid off of his lies shows, this one item may be the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Blumenthal’s record. As the Times reported, Blumenthal appears to have misled journalists about other aspects of his biography.
Slate and the Hartford Courant have both reported that Blumenthal served as captain of the swim team at Harvard, even though he was never even on the team. Blumenthal now claims to be “astonished” about this lie and disavows all responsibility for it. Yet, like his lies about Vietnam service, Blumenthal — a man who is well known for his careful use of words — never sought to correct the record. After many years of flying below the radar of the investigative press while posing as being a man above reproach, the spotlight will now be on Blumenthal. This means that if there are other lies on his record — and it is more than likely that such things are not isolated incidents — they will soon be discovered. This will make for a very uncomfortable summer and fall for a Connecticut Democratic Party that had hoped the Senate race would be a cakewalk.