“The American people are tired of liars and people who pretend to be something they’re not”. (Hillary Clinton)
The Attorney General of Connecticut, Richard Blumenthal was recently caught in a lie. It was a whopper by any standard as it involved something so transparent, public, and dishonorable that even his friend, former Connecticut Rep. Chris Shays admitted to the NY Times that he found it increasingly problematic for the prospective Senatorial candidate should he continue to give it life. Which brings me to yet another quote that provides a label for those ‘friends’ that gave him cover for his lies.
“He who does not bellow the truth when he knows the truth makes himself the accomplice of liars and forgers”. 19th century French philosopher, Charles Peguy summed it up pretty well. Mr. Shays and others on Blumenthal’s defense team may need to rethink their part in this charade of ‘stolen valor’.
Every self made moral purist and scolding political analyst have made hay over Mr. Blumenthal’s fantasy about having served as a Marine in Viet Nam when the bullets were flying when in fact he has never been to Viet Nam – ever. Frankly he deserves every bit of flak being shot at him now for cultivating this lie over time and using it for personal political advantage. One has to wonder just how intelligent the Harvard – Yale educated Mr. Blumenthal really is to think that he would never be found out especially in the internet age when entire websites are devoted to checking the facts behind those that make such heroic proclamations.
But in our upside down world, we find Dick Blumenthal, the leading Democrat candidate for the US Senate, standing defiantly at the podium in the local VFW hall with several other (likely bona fide) Viet Nam veterans standing behind him, twisting the facts once again. He didn’t lie, he simply misspoke and those listening were the unfortunate rubes that swallowed his fantasy as the truth. As if that wasn’t enough to test the credulity of those listening to his tripe he then thought it appropriate to go on the offensive, ala Bill Clinton, and defiantly scold anyone who would use his transgression against him. So much for contrition and humility.
The question is: Will the voters of Connecticut stoop so low as to give this dishonorable political hack their permission to represent them in Washington? Unfortunately, they probably will because the political class has succeeded in redefining the concepts of honor and shame.
Does anyone remember the name Jeremy Boorda? He was the Chief of Naval Operations that committed suicide at the Pentagon in 1996 when a group headed by Col. David Hackworth (US Army Ret.) and Newsweek Magazine questioned two ‘V’ (Valor) enhancement insignias attached to Admiral Boorda’s uniform medals. Admiral Boorda subsequently ended his own life distraught at being the focus of the spectacle. Ironically, Col. Hackworth was not without his own commendation discrepancies. This is certainly not to suggest that Blumenthal should follow the same course as Admiral Boorda however it does make a striking contrast between the characters of both men and the sanctity each afforded their military service and those with whom they served.
Why is this so important? Richard Blumenthal has been Connecticut’s Attorney General since 1991. He has an Ivy League pedigree, has had a productive, if not controversial law career, and amassed a wide network of political allies. He’s been in the game along time and fully understands the meaning of words and their situational impact. When Mr. Blumenthal submitted his job application with the citizens of Connecticut for Chris Dodd’s vacant seat in the US Senate, his resume put him on the short list. If an applicant for a job at your company arrived for their interview with an exposed lie on their resume, would you give him a second look, let alone a job offer? Doubtful.
A lie has kept Pete Rose out of Baseball’s Hall of Fame and will likely do the same for Mark McGwire. A lie didn’t work out so well for Richard Nixon but a lying Bill Clinton defiantly wagging his finger at his accusers rallied his defense team. Adam Wheeler, former Harvard student is facing criminal trial in Massachusetts for lying about his academic resume. Do Dick Blumenthal and Adam Wheeler present a double standard for some liars and not others? They all lied. They all had issues with honesty, integrity, and their public persona but they experienced different outcomes.
I would love to believe Hillary Clinton’s premise that we “…. are tired of liars and people who pretend to be something they’re not”. We’ll see if Connecticut voters give Dick Blumenthal credence to Mrs. Clinton’s remark and judge him to be not worthy of their trust. Any sense of community hinges on the degree of honesty, trust, and truth it confidently places in those they choose to lead. I hope she is right as it would represent another signal that American culture has reached a turning point in how it responds to deficits in integrity in the public arena..