Where should fake Vietnam veteran Richard Blumenthal start apologizing?
Maybe to the 2,594,000 young Americans who actually did serve in Vietnam, rather than claiming, as Blumenthal did, that “I served in Vietnam” when actually he was enjoying himself at home and burnishing his future career as a Connecticut politician.
Certainly to the 58,220 American war dead and the 1,741 American troops who disappeared in Vietnam and whose remains were never found.
And to the 153,303 Americans who were wounded in Vietnam, many of whom came home to struggle with disability and depression.
I doubt if they’d really be all that interested. But Blumenthal owes it to them to explain why he thought it was okay to lie about having done his duty in Vietnam, when actually he was cruising through Harvard, securing a socially prominent internship with Washington Post Publisher Katherine Graham, and getting himself a job in the Nixon White House.
Problem is, Blumenthal himself doesn’t see a problem. When he said, “I served in Vietnam,” he meant “during” instead of “in,” he explained Tuesday. It was “absolutely unintentional,” he asserted. “I was unaware of those misplaced words when spoken.”
Sorry. Being in war is a searing experience, not easily confused with not being in war. Combat veterans know when they’ve been in combat. People who don’t go to combat know they missed that experience. You went or you didn’t go, and the difference is not ever erased. Even if 40 years have passed.
Blumenthal’s story was broken Tuesday by the New York Times. It reported that Blumenthal, the odds-on favorite to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd, falsely claimed Vietnam War service.
Blumenthal was asked Tuesday if he would apologize. He stuck out his chin and said simply, “I regret that I misspoke.”