Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 20 20:01:29 UTC 2010

> AP posted another clip, slightly earlier in the /same speech/, that
identifies his
service record correctly.

This, of course, makes all the difference. Suddenly there's no story at all.

The video and descriptions I've seen on CNN have all implied (by omission)
that the "served in VN" remark was straightforward and never qualified in
any way.

What possible excuse can there be for this kind of "journalism"?


On Thu, May 20, 2010 at 2:45 PM, Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at>wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Vietnam
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Interspersed below:
> On 5/20/2010 1:24 PM, Bill Palmer wrote:
> > There are numerous examples of individuals masquerading as  combat
> veterans,
> > war heroes, etc.
> >
> In fact, Lindsey Graham, while campaigning for the Senate seat in 1998,
> repeatedly and blatantly referred to himself as a "Gulf War veteran" in
> speeches and interviews. While this may sound more ambiguous than the
> single Blumenthal clip, the intent was quite obvious and damning. Graham
> never left the East coast of the US during the Gulf War, even though he
> did wear the uniform during that time. Graham was elected and is still
> in the Senate. And Dick Cheney asked for five deferments before deciding
> that he did not even need to ask any more--and he went on to serve as a
> Defense Secretary and a Vice President.
> We've also had at least two now-former presidents making an issue of
> their "service". In George W. Bush's case, the "service" was laughable.
> In Reagan's case, it was non-existent.
> > Isn't it obvious that Blumenthal is trading on the sacrifices of others?
> Is
> > it possible that he could have just made an honest misstatement crediting
> > himself with combat duty, when actually he could have avoided such a
> > misrepresentation by not speaking extemporaneously?  Why bend over
> backwards
> > to find some circumstance which allows the possibility that he's not a
> liar.
> >
> > This thing walks like a duck and talks like a duck.
> I guess, the whole point is that it /isn't/ obvious. I raised the issue
> initially not to defend Blumenthal but to understand if there was any
> linguistic evidence to support his claim, simply trying to understand
> the issue. Following the discussion here, I am convinced that there is
> no evidence of any kind of ambiguity in what he said--"in Vietnam" does
> not have a secondary meaning, no matter how much anyone tries to spin
> it. Since I have no direct experience or expertise in the area, I was
> trying not to prejudge either the story or its target.
> However, there is exactly zero evidence beyond this single incident that
> suggests that he was deliberately trying to mislead the audience
> concerning his record. Other alleged citations are suggestive /only/ if
> you are looking for this interpretation already. In ordinary reading,
> they are perfectly consistent with his actual record--a point I did try
> to make when I first posted it.
> But, more importantly, there is obvious doubt about intent /in the same
> speech/. Unlike NYT, which appears to have uncritically adopted the
> claim from one of the opposing campaigns, within 24 hours, AP posted
> another clip, slightly earlier in the /same speech/, that identifies his
> service record correctly. If anything, Ron undersold this point--not
> only did Blumenthal correctly explained his service record, but he did
> so in the very same speech that is now being claimed as evidence of his
> attempt to mislead.
> I suppose, I should have known the risk of turning this into a political
> discussion when I brought it up. But I tried to focus on the main point
> and it was a question of language. But now that we started talking about
> ducks, it seems necessary to point out another datum: Blumenthal had one
> of the highest statewide favorability rating of any politician in the
> country at the time he made the statement. There was no objective reason
> for him to inflate his record. One has to be monstrously stupid to
> deliberately risk his 78% approval rating to get it up to maybe 80%,
> when anything over 60% is close to a guarantee of election victory. If
> Blumenthal were this stupid would he not repeat the claim more than once??
> Sometimes, when it looks like a duck, it's merely a head of a
> platypus--or, perhaps, even a wooden decoy. The NYT story appears to be
> only slightly more legitimate than the one sold to Dan Rather. Sure,
> they could have posed the question concerning Blumenthal's potential fib
> without risking their reputation. But to do so without giving a full
> account of even the one supposedly controversial speech is journalistic
> malpractice. NYT has become the paper of spotty record.
>     VS-)
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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