UPDATE: He’s bowed out or, as Greenwich Time puts it, “sought another deferment”. Good line.
Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday took an unexpected dig at Democratic Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal for misstating [uh, that should read, “lying about” – ED] his military service record.
While speaking at a barbecue for wounded soldiers at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, he commented about veterans coming home from the Vietnam War. Biden, who has a penchant for being loquacious, veered into the Connecticut Senate race.
“I didn’t serve in Vietnam. I don’t want to make a Blumenthal mistake here,” he said according to a pool report. “Our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him.”
Later he said “I have a bad habit of saying exactly what I think.”
Music here:Ballad of the Green Beret
Put silver wings, on my own chest
I’ll pretend, I’m America’s best,
Call me a man, but then someday,
you will know,
I wear a fake beret
Trained to serve in privileged lands
I passed the canapes,
Hand to hand
I stand so tall, though five foot, say,
I really wear, a fake beret
Back at home, and old wife waits
Her phony soldier’s met his fate
A camera man got in his way,
He smacked him with,
His fake beret
Put silver wings on my own chest
I’ll pretend, I’m America’s best
Bury me deep, because someday,
You will learn, I wore a fake beret
Apologies to Barry Sadler, and The Ballad of the Green Berets but this London Times column, forwarded by Bill Clark, is a delightful send up of lying politicians like Dick Blumenthal, Hillary Clinton and their “misstatements”.
By Dominick Lawson
Don’t lie, try misspeaking instead
There is no official league table for political lies. Some of us will be able to find it in our hearts to forgive a form of dissembling that others would regard as beyond salvation. Yet a candidate for office who, having gone to great lengths to avoid military combat, seeks public support on the basis of his invented active service would, you might think, be completely unelectable. Not necessarily, or so it seems, in America.
Treat yourself and read the whole thing.
Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic Senatorial candidate from Connecticut, is in trouble this week for lying about having fought in Vietnam. The former Marine reservist admits he “misspoke” on several occasions about his military service and is otherwise unapologetic, but the revelation has thrown open a race that Mr. Blumenthal appeared to have in the bag.
Since Connecticut voters are suddenly focused on Mr. Blumenthal’s résumé, they might also like to learn more about his record in public life. Since 1991, Mr. Blumenthal has been the Nutmeg State’s Attorney General, earning a reputation for aggressive, politically tinged and high-profile prosecutions. He has accused hundreds of people and businesses of misrepresentation and fraud that is often less egregious than his own untruthful claims.
Mr. Blumenthal has made his crusading ways a large selling point in his bid to replace the retiring Chris Dodd. The state press generally goes along. He deflects criticism that his methods scare investors and jobs away from the state, and he even says that his prosecutions bring in revenue by coercing fines out of companies.
“To blame law enforcement for unemployment is beyond wrong, it’s silly and shouldn’t be given any credibility,” he said earlier this year. One of his Democratic opponents, Merrick Alpert, cracked in response that, “Lawsuits don’t create jobs, entrepreneurs create jobs.”
To understand the Blumenthal method, consider his case against Gina Kolb, formerly Gina Malapanis, and her small computer supplies company, Computers Plus Center Inc. In 2003, the Attorney General alleged that Computers Plus had failed to install proper “network interface cards” in the machines it supplied under a $17.2 million state contract, which was cancelled.
Mr. Blumenthal first filed a civil suit against Computers Plus for $1.7 million—announced, of course, at a press conference featuring himself. “No supplier should be permitted to shortchange or overcharge the state without severe consequences,” he said then. The following year, the state escalated with a criminal case and police arrested Mrs. Kolb at her home on seven first-degree larceny charges punishable by up to 20 years in jail. More toughly worded press releases followed from the prosecutor.
Mrs. Kolb refused to take a plea in the civil case. On the criminal charges, she took part in the state’s accelerated rehabilitation program. She didn’t admit guilt, and upon completion of the program her record was wiped clean in 2008. Mrs. Kolb countersued the state for violating her constitutional rights, abusing its power and ruining her business. This January, a jury agreed that Mr. Blumenthal made false claims about Mrs. Kolb and her business, awarding her $18 million. So much for Mr. Blumenthal making money for Connecticut taxpayers.
The AG has challenged the verdict, but the Kolb case fits a pattern that the Cato Institute’s Walter Olson calls “bullying, legally ill-founded ventures into litigation.” From his leading role in the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s to trying to repossess bonuses to AIG executives, Mr. Blumenthal has cultivated a reputation as the Eliot Spitzer of Connecticut. In 2007, the Competitive Enterprise Institute rated Mr. Blumenthal the worst state AG, beating Mr. Spitzer, which takes some doing.
He was the only AG to get failing grades in each of the four categories: using his office to “promote personal gain or enrich cronies or relatives”; “fabricating the law” by asking courts to “rewrite statutes or stretch constitutional norms”; bringing lawsuits “that usurp regulatory powers granted to the federal government or other state entities”; and “seeking to regulate conduct occurring wholly in other states.”
Which does not mean Mr. Blumenthal can’t show prosecutorial discretion when he wants to. Last year, he went on television to announce that he wouldn’t investigate Countrywide Financial’s sweetheart loans to Senator Dodd, nonetheless declaring without any probe that “there’s no evidence of wrongdoing on [Mr. Dodd’s] part.”
Much like Mr. Spitzer’s cavorting with prostitutes while he was New York’s chief law enforcement officer, Mr. Blumenthal’s Vietnam fabrications reflect a larger problem with his public character. Rather than apologize for imagining a war record, the AG copped only to “a few misplaced words” that he said were “totally unintentional”—and he even held his news conference at a Veterans of Foreign Wars hall.
Mr. Blumenthal’s Vietnam problem is all too typical of a sense of entitlement and impunity that has built up over many years of exercising vast power with little restraint. This is not the kind of character that will change Washington.
Reader Diva4ever sends along this profile of our creepy senatorial candidate, and former Harvard swim team captain (ha ha) Dickie Blumenthal, from American Spectator.
Unfortunately, Dodd’s replacement as the Democratic standard-bearer, state attorney general Richard Blumenthal, is no walk along the Connecticut River either. Blumenthal is an overzealous Eliot Spitzer imitator with a duller social life [so far as we know now – Ed] but a no less acute sense of his office’s activist potential. The Hartford Courant once editorialized that Blumenthal “has elevated activism to an art form, figuratively beating the ambulance to the accident almost every time.” The Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) labeled him the nation’s worst state attorney general.
One might assume that the voters would be repulsed at the sight of a Greenwich limousine liberal chasing ambulances, but the key to successful crusading — Blumenthal has been in office for five four-year terms — is to convince people you are really looking out for the little guy. Blumenthal picks unpopular targets and says he is wielding his considerable power on behalf of the downtrodden. He entered the race with a 40-point net favorable rating and led his nearest Republican rival by a two to one margin in the most recent Quinnipiac poll. His job approval rating hovered near 80 percent.
Blumenthal built his popularity on the backs of such easy prey as tobacco companies. In the 1990s, he negotiated the Master Settlement Agreement by which state attorneys general agreed to drop their litigation against cigarette manufacturers if the coffin nail-makers were willing to pony up. Nobody likes Big Tobacco and everybody loves the anti-smoking efforts the national tobacco deal was supposed to fund. But the end result was a transfer of $14 billion from disproportionately low-income smokers to the bank accounts of wealthy trial lawyers.
WHY IS SOMEONE AS ADEPT at self-promotion as Blumenthal still attorney general after nearly 20 years? State Democrats complain that he has looked out for his own self-preservation first rather than the needs of their party. He has repeatedly taken a pass on races for Senate and governor. “He’s intelligent. He’s a decent guy. He just doesn’t have the fire for a tough run,” New Haven Advocate political columnist Paul Bass memorably observed.
“He wants it to be handed to him, and it never was.”
Niantic, Connecticut blogger Steven Frishling was attacked by TSA goons last week and had his computer seized by federal government officials embarrassed at the exposure of their silly, weak response to the Captain Underpants bombing attempt. The blogging world rallied around Frishling and late last week the TSA dropped its subpoena, but they still have his computer and his records. I would think that Connecticut’s Attorney General would want to protect one of the citizens he is supposed to serve in an instance like this but so far as I know, he has done nothing – busy skiing in Aspen, perhaps, but is that an excuse? Where is Blumenthal?
UPDATE: We’re in the best of hands. TSA goon drops his super secret, double-probation notebook