Remembering Rich Blumenthal's Vietnam Deception
Senate smear artist never paid a price for claiming he served.
In the confirmation hearings for Jeff Sessions, president-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Attorney General, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, proceeded as though David Horowitz had been the AG choice.
David Horowitz was not present but Blumenthal cited his statements that all the major Muslim organizations are connected to the Muslim Brotherhood, that 80 percent of the mosques in America are filled with hate against Jews, and that too many blacks are in prison because too many blacks commit crimes.
Senator Blumenthal, an attorney, had not taken the trouble to investigate these statements, which are all true and accurate. Instead he called them “apparently racist” and demanded that Jeff Sessions denounce David Horowitz and give back an award he had received from the David Horowitz Freedom Center.
By any standard, this was the most loathsome and gutless performance many had seen since the hearings for Clarence Thomas and Robert Bork, where smear artists Howard Metzenbaum (D-Ohio) and Ted Kennedy (D-Mass) respectively held forth. In the Sessions hearings it failed to emerge that Blumenthal, 70, bears a history of problems with truth and courage alike.
“Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ from History,” ran the New York Times headline on a May 17, 2010 article by Raymond Hernandez. Blumenthal, then Connecticut Attorney General and running for the U.S. Senate seated vacated by Christopher Dodd, had recently appeared at a ceremony in Norwalk honoring veterans. There he proclaimed, “We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam.” There was one problem, Hernandez noted. The aspiring Senator “never served in Vietnam.”
According to records obtained by Hernandez and his colleagues Barclay Walsh, Kitty Bennett and Bonnie Kavoussi, Blumenthal “obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war.”
These deferments cleared the way for Blumenthal, son of a wealthy New York businessman, to complete studies at Harvard, serve as a special assistant to Washington Post publisher Katherine Graham, and “ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.”
In 1969, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the President Nixon’s urban affairs advisor, hired Richard Blumenthal as a White House assistant. With his military deferment in doubt, as Hernandez noted, “he landed a coveted spot in the Marine Reserve, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam.” While others risked their lives slugging it out with the Vietcong and NVA, Blumenthal’s unit remained stateside conducting drills and “organizing a Toys for Tots drive.”
At veterans’ ceremonies, Blumenthal failed to make it clear that he never served in Vietnam. On the other hand, he gave the impression that he shared in the abuse returning veterans suffered. Blumenthal even showed up at the dedication ceremony for the Connecticut Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The memorial’s chairwoman Jean Risley, who was also present, told Hernandez that Blumenthal said: “When we came back, we were spat on; we couldn’t wear our uniforms.”
Hernandez dug up eight newspaper articles from 2003 to 2009 describing Richard Blumenthal as veteran of the Vietnam war, a Marine who served “in Vietnam” and such. That duly became part of his public profile and the intrepid Hernandez and his team found no evidence that “Mr. Blumenthal ever sought to correct those mistakes.”
The old-line establishment media, as it happened, covered up more than Blumenthal’s Vietnam fakery. The Hartford Courant also described him as captain of the Harvard swim team but Hernandez discovered that Blumenthal “was never on the team.” With his falsehoods conveniently newspapered over, Blumenthal duly gained election to the U.S Senate, but the story does not end there.
Conscripts or volunteers, American soldiers fought bravely in Vietnam. Consider, for example, Chuck Mawhinney, the Marine Corps sniper who took down 103 of the enemy in 16 months of duty. In one engagement, Mawhinney shot dead 16 of the enemy with 16 shots. Many others performed heroically, but the U.S. government did not give them the support they needed, and the American left, posing as “anti-war” activists, wanted the Stalinist North Vietnamese regime to win.
The Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC bears the names of 58,272 men and women who served in Vietnam, paid the ultimate sacrifice, and did not return home. Many died while Blumenthal lied. Those who fought in Vietnam and did survive, meanwhile, can be a bit edgy about those who claimed to have served but never did so.
Authentic veterans have donned T-shirts reading: VIETNAM: IF YOU WEREN’T THERE, SHUT THE F–K UP.” Richard Blumenthal, who said he was there but wasn’t, should have heeded that advice, but no surprise that he didn’t.
This pampered poltroon was acting entirely in character as he smeared David Horowitz when the Radical Son and Black Book of the American Left author was not even present. It doesn’t get much worse than that.