Posted by: Bill Tracy | May 31, 2010

Bedpans for Blumenthal

We are the Dead. Short days ago

We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,

Loved, and were loved, and now we lie

In Flanders fields.

-John McCrae

In Flanders Fields

Today, May 31 is this country’s annual Memorial Day observance. To the extent I pay any attention to it, the day is not a good one. The original intent, I believe was subdued. After the U.S. Civil War, people would go to the graves of those who were killed while in the military service and place “decorations.” These could be flowers, flags, ribbons, wreaths, blankets, poems, etc. You sometimes see the same spontaneous eruption of sentiment at the site of automobile crashes nowadays, a naturally occurring human reaction to sudden death. I believe the purest intent of this reaction is simple remembrance, a necessary counterweight to grief. It does not carry or convey any more than that – remembrance.

Predictably, within several years of the adoption of a decoration day tradition, a tradition of simple remembrance, it was co-opted, overwhelmed and bought out by politicians who saw it as a tasty morsel of self-promotion. In less time than it takes to cover a casket with earth, the parades, military color guards, bands and speeches became the tradition of the day. Suddenly, this simple remembrance of those now lying in Flanders fields became ladled with military “glory” and cheap patriotism, often from those who did their best to stay as far from Flanders fields as they possibly could within the law.

Blumenthal

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal in his comfortable office with a nice clean shirt and tie. This is where he has apparently been practicing his deceptions for nearly 20 years now.

While I didn’t think much about it this day, I’m still angry about most people’s lackadaisical reaction to Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. He got caught up in his own web of deception while campaigning for the office of U.S. Senator. Blumenthal is the classic pantywaist who whistled while walking past Flanders fields. Coming from a background of privilege he was able to get multiple draft deferments to keep him from military service while the Vietnam War raged, while our Flanders fields were filling up like popcorn containers at a double feature. Finally, when he could no longer get a deferment, he got himself a safe spot in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve. For the remainder of the war years, he safely remained in Washington, DC advancing his political interests while collecting toys for tots on the weekends. Finally discharged honorably as a sergeant I have to conclude he served with distinction in those toy “search and collect” campaigns.

None of us should have gone to Vietnam, and those of us most intimately involved in the whole mess at the time knew it. A lot of the shrewdest among us found legal ways around it; others simply fled to Canada or courageously went to prison instead. I don’t fault any of them for saving themselves from a political fiasco of evil proportions. Even Richard Cheney, perhaps the most vile and despicable human to ever carry the title citizen of this country, found a legal means to stay safe. George Bush, on the other hand, found a way to foul up his Vietnam escape as he found a way to screw up almost everything in his sad life. When his military service no longer was convenient he simply left. He’s a military deserter to this day, and the fact that he could ever be named president of this country underscores our national putrescence. I don’t fault Blumenthal for his shrewdness 40 years ago, but I do fault him for manipulating national memory today.

In public statements, Blumenthal is quoted as saying he served in Vietnam. In their May 18 edition, The New York Times reported:

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

In the ensuing skirmish many other instances of such statement by Blumenthal emerged. He countered by wrapping himself in the middle of a group of people claiming to be military veterans and saying:

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility.”

Vietnam Service Medal

This is the Vietnam Service Medal awarded to military people who actually participated in the Vietnam War. Apparently, Richard Blumenthal so desperatley wishes he had one he's willing to lie publicly.

He regrets that he misspoke. Well, he didn’t misspeak. He lied to achieve an impression that he is something he is not – courageous, perhaps even heroic. You can’t spend your military career in the comfortable and erudite niches of the U.S. east coast and then, speaking as the Attorney General of Connecticut, tell people you served in Vietnam. That’s a lie, plain and simple. Attorneys General shouldn’t lie. Even worse, later facts indicate he spoke a lot about Vietnam, and even if it were a massive lie of omission, he simply allowed people to believe he was a military veteran who served in Vietnam. That makes me angry. It made me angry enough to find a contemporary of Blumenthal who actually did go to Vietnam. I found U.S. Marine Corps Lance Corporal Thomas James Tingley of Fairfield, Ct.

I wonder what Lance Corporal Tingley would have to say about this, had he not died in Vietnam on December 30, 1967, three days short of his twentieth birthday? While Blumenthal was working the system to protect himself, Lance Corporal Tingley was in Vietnam believing he was protecting Blumenthal and his family and his country.

Blumenthal has worked his sleazy little con for years now, suggesting he was just like Lance Corporal Tingley. He befriended a lot of real veterans and pretended to be one of them. Well, Lance Corporal Tingley gave Blumenthal all of the 43 prosperous years of life he has had since December 30, 1967.

Tingley medals

A depiction of the medals awarded to Lance Corporal Thomas James Tingley, USMC, who died fighting for his country in Vietnam on December 30, 1967, three days short of his twentieth birthday.

I suggest that on this Memorial Day (observed) Blumenthal, whose web of lies was intended to manipulate national memory on his own behalf, spend a couple of quiet hours in respectful remembrance of a man who did go to Vietnam – and died trying to ensure the ability of politicians like Blumenthal to lie to their fellow citizens.

Yes, I’m angry. If you are not angry, then you’re the person I’m angry with. I’m only marginally angry with Blumenthal. He’s a politician, and deceptive opportunism is part of that stripe. He was simply doing what those of his ilk normally do. He got caught and weaseled his way out of it because his fellow citizens don’t care much about the sacrifice of Lance Corporal Tingley and his 59,000 fellow citizens who died in the Vietnam War, not to mention all those physically and psychologically disabled by the viciousness of war.

Perhaps if you can put down the beer and barbecue sauce for a few minutes, you can spend a few minutes pondering the magnitude of disrespect Blumenthal has shown for the people who died believing they were serving this country. I hope you can, and I hope you will, because I know it will make you angry. And if you can’t work up any anger over this, please take down your flags and lapel pins and car magnets and never again say you “support the troops.” You don’t.

Bedpan

A typical bedpan. Send one along to Richard Blumenthal -- please send it empty to preserve good taste in this important matter. Image courtesy: http://www.city-data.com/forum/attachments/photography/38218d1237474803 -daily-random-photos-one-pix-per-bedpan.jpg

Finally, for those who can manage some anger, I’m proposing a little suggestive campaign. I’ve been saying the appropriate thing for Blumenthal to do for the next six years, instead of being a U.S. Senator (“Honorable”?) is empty and clean bedpans in Veterans Administration Hospitals. Then, in 2016 he can come back and tell us all about his military experience – I’ll be all ears at that point! To get him started on his new military adventure, I suggest we each send him a bedpan. I’m calling the campaign “Bedpans for Blumenthal.” There will be no campaign medals awarded, but you will be able to stand proudly on Memorial Day and remember all those who now honorably lie in Flanders fields.

Here’s the mailing address for Blumenthal’s campaign:

Blumenthal for Connecticut

330 Main Street

Third Floor

Hartford, CT  06106

860 560-2010

Oh, and if you want to read a moving dedication to Lance Corporal Tingley, go here:

http://www.virtualwall.org/dt/TingleyTJ01a.htm

I’m not going to quote it here to avoid seeming manipulative myself.

F-4C Aircraft

F-4C on alert pad in Vietnam, circa 1967. It could be airborne in support of U.S. troops in less than two minutes. This is what Richard Blumenthal imagines he saw. The reality is, he did not.

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Responses

  1. Well put. Thanks for speaking what so many of us who had loved ones in Viet Nam have been thinking about Mr. Blumenthal since the news came out about his lies and deception concerning his service (?) to our country.

    You, my friend, are to be honored, and thanked. I personally thank you for your service to the USA (whether you agreed with what went on in VN or not). You are a hero. Thank you again.

  2. Well said, Bill. I too share your disdain for what Decoration Day has become: an occasion to evoke some kind of sentimental longing for the “good war” and to perpetuate the myth that warfare is somehow an honorable and glorious undertaking. By saying which, I do not mean to dishonor those who bravely offer their service in time of war. What a tragedy that such noble impulses can be exploited to lure good men and women into stupid and disastrous conflicts like every war in my adult memory. Not a single one has had anything to do with “defending our liberties.” So yes, it was good that Blumenthal avoided service in Vietnam. Don’t we wish every single one of the soldiers killed or maimed in that war — and every war since — had done the same?


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