Dan Goncharoff thegonch at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 21 16:59:38 UTC 2010

Reagan has been accused of lying about his military service:


On 5/20/2010 4:22 PM, Dave Wilton wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society<ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Dave Wilton<dave at WILTON.NET>
> Subject:      Re: Vietnam
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>> In Reagan's case, it was non-existent.
> Not true. Reagan joined the Army reserves in 1937 as a private and was
> ordered to active duty in April 1942. He was discharged in December 1945
> with the rank of captain, after having spent most of the war in military
> service. He was, however, restricted to service in the States due to his
> poor vision. The majority of his service was spent making training films,
> which was actually a very astute use of his talents by the Army. I'm not
> aware that Reagan ever distorted his military service to claim that he did
> anything other than make films for the Army.
> Reagan was hardly alone in being so used. Joe DiMaggio spent the war
> stateside playing exhibition baseball on an Army team to entertain other
> troops. Musician Dave Brubeck was shipped overseas and served in Patton's
> 3rd Army, but he played in a jazz band and did not see ground combat, but he
> did undergo an artillery attack on at least one occasion. In contrast, Ted
> Williams was a USMC instructor pilot; he also remained stateside and did not
> see combat in WWII, although he did fly 39 combat missions in Korea, and
> actor Jimmy Stewart was a bomber pilot who flew 20 combat missions.
> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] On Behalf Of
> Victor Steinbok
> Sent: Thursday, May 20, 2010 11:46 AM
> 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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