Which is worse: Lying or jumping to the defense of liars? Time for Connecticut Democrats to be counted.

The Democrats had the Connecticut Senate seat sewed up, the one being vacated by Chris Dodd. Nate Silver’s authoritative website,  http://fivethirtyeight.com, rated the seat at greater than 95 percent likely to remain Democratic. Until this morning’s New York Times ran a front-page piece headlined, “Candidate’s Words on Vietnam Service Differ From History.”

And how!

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, Democratic candidate, has been running 13-25 points ahead of possible Republican opponents. But he’s been claiming that he served in Vietnam, and that, “When we came back, we were spat on; we couldn’t wear our uniforms.” But Blumenthal never served in Vietnam. He got five deferments from the draft, and when they ran out he did the only thing that would save him from having to go to Vietnam: he joined the Marine Corps Reserve, where his most intense action was the Christmas time Toys for Tots” program. Blumenthal also claimed to have been captain of the Harvard swim team, a claim that the university debunks.

Blumenthal’s defense? “I may have misspoken—I did misspeak on a few occasions out of hundreds, and I will not allow anyone to take a few of those misplaced words and impugn my record of service.”

So the Attorney General told the truth more often than he lied? That’s good enough for some Democrats. The Times quoted one Connecticut Democratic operative as saying that Blumenthal would be able to absorb the blow by counterattacking, saying, “This is what we’re going to expect, folks—strap in, this is going to be the m.o. for the McMahon [i.e., Republican] campaign.” And the national party rushed to Blumenthal’s side: Eric Schultz, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, attacked, “It’s no surprise Republicans would want to smear Dick Blumenthal, considering all of the debauchery at [WWE] under Linda McMahon’s watch.”

But Bill Curry, a two-time Democratic nominee for governor, put it best. Or maybe worst. He told The Times that Blumenthal would come through the episode with his popularity intact “because he’s been in office for so long and no one’s questioned his veracity about anything.”

Except just this one thing. No, actually two.

Ethical question of the day: Which is worse: lying or defending liars?

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8 Responses to “Which is worse: Lying or jumping to the defense of liars? Time for Connecticut Democrats to be counted.”

  1. Jack Marshall Says:

    Oh, I’d say the lying is worse—especially when the liar is as unapologetic about it as a Blumenthal has been—but you’re right: it’s a close call. This is how candidates like Blumenthal (and Clinton, another example of a standard-bearer who corrupted a whole party-full of otherwise sensible public servants because they felt they couldn’t break ranks. If I had a nickle for every anecdote I heard from a friend about how such-and-such Dem Senator was “furious” about Clinton’s dishonesty, only to see said Senator that night, condemning a “witch hunt”…) can make an entire party—and state—look sleazy.

    You found better examples that I did–I’ll link to this over at Ethics Alarms.

    It’s a shame the GOP has a ridiculous candidate in the race, but I’d rather vote for the daughter of a professional wrestling promoter than a proven fraud like Blumenthal. And I think anyone with any respect for the military, honesty and good government should feel the same way.

  2. Ethics Bob Says:

    We’re in violent agreement again. My favorite TV show is Morning Joe, hosted by a fconservative ex-GOP congressman (Joe Scarborough) and a liberal…ex-reporter, I guess, Mika Brzezinski. Both intelligent, good natured, and the kind of folks you’d enjoy having over for dinner.

    I was shocked this am to hear Mika say “He’s a good guy,” while Joe was ridiculing the idea of a few misplaced words. But when they got to showing the Blumenthal press conference Mika redeemed herself (pretty much) by saying how unsatisfactory his non-apology was.

  3. Jack Marshall Says:

    I find both Mika and Joe waaaay too smarmy…especially Joe. How anyone can call Blumenthal “a good guy” is beyond me. It wasn’t just a non-apology, it was a blame-shifting lie: Dick Morris style “deny deny deny”—when the videotapes are right there, showing him choosing his dishonest words very deliberately. A good guy doesn’t depend on the short attention span of voters and the shamelessness of supporters to make misconduct go away. A good guy admits, apologizes, and takes the consequences.

  4. Ethics Bob Says:

    Actually that’s what Mika said after she saw his statement. The “good guy” comment came before she showed that. I don’t think she thinks that anymore. I sure don’t.
    They’re not smarmy.

  5. Jack Marshall Says:


  6. More on Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut’s Lying Attorney General « Ethics Alarms Says:

    […] But no. Chris Dodd defended his putative successor as an “honorable man.” You know—one of those honorable men who falsely take credit for what other men risked their lives to do. Blumenthal’s conduct creates a rebuttable but powerful presumption that he is not honorable. “I think, you know, his actions as it relates to standing up for veterans over a long period of time speaks volumes both where his heart and his actions are,” said Sen. Robert Menendez of New Jersey, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman said. “I’m sure he will continue to stay in the Senate race, and we will continue to support him.” [You can read about Sen. Menendez's own ethics issues here.] Other Blumenthal supporters in the party and the press have been even more shameless. […]

  7. Two follow-ups: Muslims near Ground Zero in New York City, and Connecticut voter reaction to Blumenthal’s lies « Ethics Bob Says:

    […] poll of Connecticut voters showed only 33 percent were less likely to vote for Richard Blumenthal after he lied about serving as a Marine in Vietnam. Sixty-one percent said it doesn’t make a difference. And […]

  8. The three types of apologies and Illinois Senate Candidate Mark Kirk (R) « Ethics Bob Says:

    […] Senate candidate to lie about his background and evade responsibility with a Cat 2 apology. After lying for years about having served in Vietnam, when outed Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, […]

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