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Six Days Later, Blumenthal Apologizes for Vietnam Lies

11:09 AM, May 24, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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Dick Blumenthal is finally saying what he should have said last week, sending an apology for his exaggerations about his Vietnam service to the Hartford Courant in Connecticut:

"At times when I have sought to honor veterans, I have not been as clear or precise as I should have been about my service in the Marine Corps Reserves,'' Blumenthal said in a statement e-mailed to the Hartford Courant late Sunday. "I have firmly and clearly expressed regret and taken responsibility for my words."

"I have made mistakes and I am sorry. I truly regret offending anyone,'' Blumenthal added. "I will always champion the cause of Connecticut's and our nation's veterans."

Blumenthal's early response, once the New York Times broke the story, was to surround himself with friendly veterans and vaguely regret his "misplaced words."

The apology came only after the Courant and state veterans groups asked for one. I find the claim that he "took responsibility" curious after he spent last week defending his "misplaced words."

In winning the Democratic nomination for Chris Dodd's Senate seat Friday, Blumenthal emphasized that the race shouldn't be about character, in which he had so recently been found to be profoundly lacking. After all, requiring that a Senate candidate not exaggerate his service as a political ploy with veteran audiences is liable to distract from how much he'd really like to be senator.

“I have made mistakes,” he told hundreds of party stalwarts here. “I regret them. And I have taken responsibility. But this campaign must be about the people of Connecticut. I want to get results for the people of Connecticut. And I’ve proven I can.”

At least one Democrat delegate quoted by the Times refused to participate in the convention roll call for Blumenthal because he had passed up a "golden opportunity" to apologize.

“People were ready to hear it,” she said, referring to his nationally televised news conference on Tuesday. “But to equivocate, and defend — it was just too much for me. What’s the matter with ‘I’m sorry’?”

“You don’t put yourself out there as the height of integrity and get yourself caught up in such self-deception,” she added. “It just will not work on the floor of the United States Senate.”

I imagine her sentiment is emblematic of the reaction many normal folks, regardless of party, had to a weaselly politician trying to weasel out of an obvious and particularly dishonorable lie last week.

Blumenthal will face one of three GOP challengers in November. WWE head Linda McMahon won the Republican nomination at the GOP state convention, but former congressman and Vietnam vet Rob Simmons and another contender have vowed to stay in the race. The GOP primary is Aug. 10. 

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