Monthly Archives: May 2010

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s Vietnam War Record – Or Lack Thereof

Another political career ends:

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

This one is catching many by surprise:

A lot of the insta-commentary has been to the effect that Blumenthal is just another sleazy politician. But this gets it wrong by a mile–for almost two decades, Blumenthal has been so pure, so revered throughout Connecticut that he has seemed to exist in a realm beyond politics. That’s not exaggeration. Everything about Blumenthal seemed to set him apart from the ordinary sleaze and compromise of big-time politics, especially in recent years as Joe Lieberman succumbed to narcissism and Chris Dodd’s sweetheart Countrywide mortgage tarnished him beyond redemption (or at least beyond reelection). For as long as I can remember, Blumenthal has been the crusading consumer advocate, humble, modest, unprepossessing, with that guileless Brylcreem haircut that somehow made him seem even more honorable–a throwback to an earlier era.

It seems like Blumenthal tried to walk a fine (although somewhat dishonest) line in describing his service. I know the media can distort these things, and they did get it wrong several times, but I can’t let him off the hook for that. When CNN implied that I was a solider (they never bothered to ask) I made it clear on Blogs of War that I was not. Any person of integrity, especially one who claims to care so deeply about those who served, would go to great lengths to set the story straight. Is he “just another sleazy politician“? I think so.

Video: Soldier in Iraq Takes the Oath of office Through Skype

Sadly servicemembers stationed in a warzone often miss once in a lifetime moments, but with the advancement of technology and free services such as Skype Soldiers are finally able to join their ones for the moments that matter most. staff Sgt. Kirk Bell tells us more.

Elena Kagan and the Military

Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions is going after her for decisions made at Harvard:

Republicans wasted little time Monday criticizing President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Elena Kagan, for trying to block military recruiters from Harvard Law School in protest of the Pentagon’s policies preventing gays and lesbians from serving openly.

At the time, Kagan was the dean of the Harvard Law School.

“I think she made a big mistake,” said Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, who as the top Republican on the Judiciary Committee will be influential in determining GOP support for Kagan. “Was that disqualifying? I don’t know, we’ll see. But it’s a significant issue.”

Robert C. Clark, former Dean of Harvard Law School, has a different take on the issue:

When Ms. Kagan became dean in July of 2003, she upheld this newer policy. Military recruiters used OCS services, but at the beginning of each interviewing season she wrote a public memorandum explaining the exception to the school’s nondiscrimination policy, stating her objection to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and expressing her strong view that military service is a noble and socially valuable career path that should be encouraged and open to all of our graduates.

In November 2004, however, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals found that the Solomon Amendment infringed improperly on law schools’ First Amendment freedoms. So Ms. Kagan returned the school to its pre-2002 practice of not allowing the military to use OCS, but allowing them to recruit via the student group.

Yet this reversion only lasted a semester because the Department of Defense again threatened to cut off federal funding to all of Harvard, and because the U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Third Circuit’s decision. Once again, military recruiters were allowed to use OCS, even as the dean and most of the faculty and student body voiced opposition to “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Outside observers may disagree with the moral and policy judgments made by those at Harvard Law School. But it would be very wrong to portray Elena Kagan as hostile to the U.S. military. Quite the opposite is true.

It’s not an argument that will sway many right of center folks. Example:

This comes too close to that leftist drivel: We support the Troops! ( We really don’t like what they do as part of the evil Military warmongering machine. But as long as it is politically expedient for us to do so….why, we’ll have our picture taken with them and shake their hands and throw money at them.)