Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What one has to swallow in order to believe Blumenthal

Two of the most devastating columns I ever read were the two that Michael Kelly wrote about Bill Clinton's lies about his affair with Monica Lewinsky and all the other Clinton scandals, "I Believe" and "I Still Believe." If you never read those two, head on over and read them now.

Jim Geraghty now pays tribute to the memory of Michael Kelly who sadly died while covering the war in Iraq. Geraghty lists what must be believed in order to swallow the cover story Richard Blumenthal is peddling about how he was just misspeaking when he talked as if he'd served in Vietnam.
I believe Richard Blumenthal. I believe him when he says it was accidental slip of the tongue to say “I served in Vietnam” before a group of veterans in Norwalk in 2008. I believe that he also accidentally said the wrong words when he said “when we returned” from Vietnam at an event with troops in 2003.

I believe that when he said “I remember the taunts, the insults, sometimes even physical abuse,” he didn’t mean to infer that he himself had experienced that.

I believe that he never saw at least eight newspaper articles published in Connecticut from 2003 to 2009, that described him as having served in Vietnam. I believe that he never saw the profile of him on Slate in 2000 that implied he served in Vietnam. I believe that it is through no fault of his own that his own campaign staff came to believe he had served in Vietnam.

I believe that he never saw articles that mentioned him as captain of the swim team at Harvard. I believe Blumenthal when he says he has no idea how these false achievements keep ending up in articles about him.

I believe that a vast right wing conspiracy of enemies have been feeding false facts to newspapers, laying the trap that has only been sprung today.

I believe Blumenthal when he says that even though the article had no facts wrong, that the New York Times report is an “outrageous distortion” of his record. I believe that the fact that he has sometimes said in public that he didn’t serve in Vietnam completely exonerates him of any wrongdoing.

I believe that the New York Times is part of a vast-right wing conspiracy.
Hee hee.

By the way, who claims to be the captain of a swim team he wasn't even on? That is bordering on the pathological.

William Saletan has a different take. Saletan looks at the cases that Richard Blumenthal has prosecuted as Connecticut's attorney general and applies the rules that Blumenthal has tried to enforce to Blumenthal's own history of misleading people about his service in Vietnam.
Today, Blumenthal rebutted the Times story. Let's look at the rules he has enforced on others over the last year or so and see how his rebuttals compare.

1. Beware those who exploit veterans. Last year, Blumenthal denounced "exploitive, poorly managed or even fraudulent fundraisers" who raise money in the name of veterans. He warned the public to donate only "to well-known organizations with a history of helping veterans."

Today, to dispel the allegations against him, Blumenthal stood in front of veterans at a press conference and boasted: "They've heard me again and again and again stand up for justice and fairness to our veterans."

2. Blurring is lying. Last fall, Blumenthal launched an investigation of food companies that put a "Smart Choices" logo on their products. He called the labels "potentially misleading" and decried marketing gimmicks that "blur or block the truth." Though the labels made no explicit claims, he protested that they "misguided" the public and sowed "confusion." He pledged to teach companies, through his investigation, that "labeling must be completely truthful and accurate without hype or spin." And he depicted the industry in the harshest terms: "Big Food has been feeding big lies to consumers about nutritional value."

Today, Blumenthal said he merely "misspoke" about his service, using the wrong preposition in a small and "unintentional" oversight.
Read the rest.

This whole malarkey about how he "missspoke," using the wrong preposition by saying he fought "in" Vietnam instead of "during" Vietnam is just as lame as Bill Clinton parsing the meaning of "is." If you look at the line from the speech which the New York Times quotes, you will realize that a switch in prepositions wouldn't have made sense.
“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008.
Switching in the preposition "during" instead of "in" just doesn't parse. He wouldn't say "We have learned something important since the days that I served during Vietnam." If he wanted to talk about "when" he served, "since the days" takes care of that task. The rest of the sentence is about where he served not when he served. Anyone who reads that damning sentence knows that Blumenthal's cover story doesn't ring true. That is why he is so hard to "believe."

Meanwhile, Christopher Beam highlights another, perhaps more devastating quote from Richard Blumenthal.
It doesn't help that Blumenthal flails off-script. In an interview with the Times, he struggled to articulate why he was running for Senate. When a reporter asked if he would have voted for TARP, he turned to an aide and asked, "Have I taken a position on this?" For voters concerned about Blumenthal's record—wartime or otherwise—that quote may be the most damning of all.