Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Fri May 21 20:11:48 UTC 2010

The reporting on the story has now gone from questionable to ridiculous.
In an attempt to dig up more dirt from the archives, local journos--and
now the NYT again--are throwing everything at Blumenthal and hope it
will stick so that they get recognition for the scoop. But now language
does become the key.
> During a May 18, 2009, military board tribute to veterans in Shelton,
> Blumenthal was quoted by the Connecticut Post []
> as saying, "When we returned from Vietnam, I remember the taunts, the
> verbal and even physical abuse we encountered."

Sure, YMMV. But what I see here is a "we" that represents the country,
not "we" including the individual "I". I suppose, a more technically
accurate statement would have been "When our troops returned from
Vietnam", but it would not change the meaning of the statement one bit.
NYT quotes a similar line from the Milford Mirror, another local paper.
> “In Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said, according to the article, “we had
> to endure taunts and insults, and no one said, ‘Welcome home.’ I say
> welcome home.”

The Stamford Advocate (which is the source of the first quote above),
then makes one of the most ridiculous logical transitions that I've seen
outside of freshman composition papers:

> A year later at a Stratford Memorial Day event covered by the Post,
> Blumenthal dropped the "we" reference but didn't go out of his way to
> say that he never went to Vietnam.
> "I am called general all the time in my role, but the highest rank I
> will ever have in life is as a sergeant in the United States Marines,"
> said Blumenthal, who went on to comment how tough it was for veterans
> of the unpopular conflict to return to "taunts and jeers."

There is no indication of Vietnam in this statement at all! Is
Blumenthal now being pilloried for NOT saying he wasn't in Vietnam every
time he opened his mouth? And note that the description the paper gives
actually supports directly the interpretation I gave above--the
reference is to "we" as "our country" or "our troops", which is a
perfectly ordinary usage. It is not self-aggrandizement. And it makes no
difference whatsoever whether you take these statements in isolation or
together with the ones to do imply that Blumenthal served "in
Vietnam"--the interpretation remains the same. And the fact that he used
a similar line repeatedly makes the point trivial.

Some may be disgusted with Blumenthal's behavior. /I/ am disgusted with
the coverage. Journalists are illiterate and journalism is dead.


PS: I /hope/ this post comes across as "intemperate". I was mildly
annoyed before--not at anyone on this list, but at the reporting
standards. The annoyance is no longer "mild".

PPS: Unless there is need to correct the record on something I said
(that is, if what I wrote is misinterpreted or misrepresented), I will
refrain from posting any more on this topic here. The last thing I want
to do is turn this discussion into a political circus. There are two
possible definitive resolutions at this point: Blumenthal does a tearful
mea culpa, admits to deliberately lying and drops out of the race, or,
the NYT Co. is incinerated after being struck by lightning. Both appear
to be equally likely. Anything in between would be unsatisfying.

On 5/20/2010 7:49 PM, Baker, John M. wrote:
>          I've been following this discussion with interest and actually
> think that the content of the posts generally has been pretty high, even
> though some of the language has been intemperate.  Without intending any
> broader implications, however, I will say that lawyers, when not
> practicing law, can be just as careless in their language as anyone
> else.
> John Baker

The American Dialect Society -

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