A Philosopher's Blog

Blumenthal & Vietnam

Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on May 21, 2010
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal announces ...
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While there are people who lie about military service, these are usually not people who are running for a major office. After all, military service is rather easy to confirm or disprove.

Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat, has made references to serving in Vietnam-despite the fact that he never did so. He did serve in the Marine reserves, but that is rather different from actually going to Vietnam during the war.

The New York Times, which is usually accused of being liberally biased, took Blumenthal to task over these claims. In response, Blumenthal claims that he “misspoke.”

While it is possible for someone to misspeak, the Blumenthal situation does not seem to be this sort of situation.  If he did not misspeak, then the question arises as to why he said such things. Perhaps, he was lying in the hopes of some sort of political gain. Or perhaps he somehow wants to think he did serve in Vietnam (just as Hilary Clinton claimed to have come under sniper fire).

One rather important question is what sort of impact this should have on a candidate. Although candidates are supposed to be candid, politicians tend to lie. As such, if candidates who lie should not run for office, there would be a rather limited pool of candidates (then again, maybe this would be a good thing).

Since most (all) people do lie, lying itself should not be a disqualifier. Rather, it would seem to be a matter of the nature and seriousness of the lie. Hillary Clinton’s “misremembering” of the “sniper incident” did not disqualify her, nor did her husband’s lies about not having sex.  Bush and his fellows were also not disqualified by their lies (or incidents of misspeaking) even when their mistaken claims were used to justify a war. As such, Blumernthal’s “erroneous claims” seem to be fairly minor.

Of course, such lying is of concern. After all, lying is morally questionable and this calls a person’s character into question. Laying aside ethics, there is also the concern about the competence of a person who lies (or misspeaks) when it is so very easy to check on the veracity of such claims.

Honesty is, as always, the best policy.

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2 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on May 21, 2010 at 6:49 am

    Check out the Stolen Valor Act of 2005. Blumenthal could have broken the law depending on what he said.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stolen_Valor_Act_of_2005

  2. Anonymous said, on May 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

    He is a disgrace to veterans everywhere.


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