On the day of the first major primaries leading up to the 2012 midterm elections, The New York Times reported that Connecticut’s Attorney General Richard Blumenthal who is currently running for Christopher Dodd’s U.S. Senate seat had frequently misrepresented his service in Vietnam. He implied and sometimes outright said he actually traveled to Vietnam and endured abuse upon his return when in reality he served in the Marine Corps reserve unit that focused on Toys for Tots and community service projects. In addition to his community service post in Washington D.C. and New Haven, CT, he obtained 5 deferments avoiding service.
So, what? Do we care? Should we care?
In short, yes. Yes, of course. For starters, it shouldn’t be that hard to tell the truth. Second, it shouldn’t be that hard to recall portions of a stump speech when asked to do so by THE NEW YORK TIMES. Unfortunately for Mr. Blumenthal, he not only fell into a classic political blunder; he handled it in the same, tired way a man of his generation would. He pretended not to remember. Classic.
The funny thing is, I’m a potential voter of his here in Connecticut and I’m also a member of a valuable demographic. I’m a registered Independent, under 30 years old, who voted for President Obama in 2008. However, I was also undecided going into this mini-story and as a result, I don’t think it had the effect on me that it did on some Blumenthal supporters. A close friend, not a registered voter in Connecticut, is a big Blumenthal fan and contacted me early this morning about the story. She was fired up and rightly so. Her angle was slightly different and I thought it was worth repeating here.
She was angered because politically minded people put their faith, or at the very least- their trust, only to be disappointed repeatedly. This is not surprising to anyone. It happens in entertainment. It happens in professional sports (for me it was Tiger Woods). People are fallible. People with money, power and responsibility even more so.
I’m reminded of a quote by Rick Blaine, Humphrey Bogart’s character in Casablanca, describing Captain Renault by saying, “He’s like any other man, only more so.” This seems to be the rule, not the exception, when it comes to politicians. We’ve come to expect this kinda behavior. Actually, we’ve come to expect much worse (see Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, Mark Sanford). This is probably why Blumenthal will have no trouble weathering this particular story, apologizing and moving on.
Yet, for anyone who thought that Senator Richard Blumenthal was going to be different than Senators Dodd or Lieberman, think again. He’s the same-old politician cut from the opportunistic, selfish and boring mold that we’ve seen time and time again. Does this mean he’s lost my vote? Sadly, not yet. But he has lowered my expectations significantly. Given the two other possible candidates – former Representative Rob Simmons and WWE Vice President Linda McMahon, anything is possible by the time the election rolls around in November. In fact, I think that given the attention these elections are getting, I’ll try to keep updating various stories and accounts of Connecticut’s Senate race throughout the Summer and Fall to see if we can trace the development of the race and ultimately predict a winner (as well as reveal my vote).