Christmas in May

By Jeffrey Page

mis-speak, verb, to speak or say incorrectly

lie, verb, 1 to make a statement that one knows is false especially with intent to deceive 2 to give a false impression

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my [military] service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility. But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country,” said Richard Blumenthal.

Actually, what’s being impugned is his service to the facts.

Blumenthal, the Connecticut attorney general seeking the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate, called a news conference last week to inform the voters that he’s not a liar. This may prove difficult because if you seek to be taken seriously, you can misspeak on an issue once. More than that is unacceptable. The people are not idiots.

Perhaps not since Bill Clinton – “It all depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is,” he told a grand jury in responding to a question about sex – have we seen such an amusing example of blundering obfuscation as Blumenthal’s wormy explanation of how he came to say he was a member of the Marine Corps serving in Vietnam when he was no such thing. In fact, he was in the Marine Corps Reserves and never was deployed to Vietnam.

Blumenthal acknowledges that he claimed service in Vietnam “on a few occasions.” He might consider this a case of misspeaking, which raises the question: How do you make such a mistake about your personal history? And if you do err, how do you do it more than once?

In Norwalk in 2008, Blumenthal said, “We have learned something important since the days I served in Vietnam.”

The New York Times found a 2007 story in the Milford (Conn.) Mirror about a Memorial Day observance. The Mirror quoted Blumenthal saying: “In Vietnam, we had to endure taunts and insults, and no one said, ‘Welcome home.’ I say welcome home.”

And in Shelton last year, The Connecticut Post quoted him saying: “When we returned from Vietnam I remember the taunts, the verbal and even physical abuse we encountered.” By the way, could Blumenthal or anyone else who claims this trashing of returning Vietnam veterans by people in America please produce contemporaneous news accounts of the incidents? It would be nice to put that fable to rest once and for all.

It’s fair to say that if you tell people that Stamford is the capital of Connecticut, you misspeak. But if you tell them something about yourself that is 180 degrees from the truth, you do not misspeak.

You lie.

If I were Mitch McConnell, the Republican leader in the Senate, I would do the polite thing and send Blumenthal a note of deepest and sincerest appreciation for the generous early Christmas present he so graciously has given the GOP.

Jeffrey can be reached at

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