Dear Richard Blumenthal: You’re a Liar

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything (Mark Twain)

No man has a good enough memory to make a successful liar (Abraham Lincoln)

A half-truth is a whole lie (Yiddish Proverb)

Dear Richard Blumenthal,

You’re a liar.

Despite the fact that you are Connecticut’s leading law enforcer, apparently no one ever taught you the difference between the truth and a lie.

There are four ways to lie in the court of public opinion:

  1. By commission — e.g., saying you served in Vietnam when you haven’t.
  2. By omission — e.g., by failing to note that you spent most of the Vietnam years assiduously trying to AVOID military service.
  3. By understatement — e.g., like saying “on a few occasions I have misspoken about my service.”
  4. By exaggeration — e.g., “When we returned, we saw nothing like this’’ (when speaking about Vietnam veterans as if you were one of them).

You’re four for four.

The only honest thing you could say now is, “I lied, because I wanted people to think more highly of me, and it was wrong then just as it’s wrong now to try to put some kind of PR spin on my comments.  I pledge to learn from my mistakes and to never repeat them.”

The harder thing to explain to those who have elected you and who you’re asking to help you to higher office is why you thought you could get away with the lies in an age where everything is recorded in one form or another.  That, and your current attempts to portray your comments as anything but a lie, call your judgment into question.  Do the people really want to elect someone to any position of trust who both lies and has such obviously poor judgment?  Much less someone who engaged in such lies while serving as Attorney General, someone who should be a role model of honest behavior?

Your behavior also, of course, makes people wonder what else you have lied about.  This morning I read a report that you claimed to be captain of the Harvard Swim Team — and Harvard says you weren’t even on the team.  You must know that at least a dozen investigative reporters and political competitors are now sifting through claims you’ve made about yourself over the years, looking for inconsistencies.  You have two choices — out yourself, or have them out you, one revelation at a time.  Tiger Woods learned that one the hard way.

Finally, I want to address you as a fellow Vietnam-era veteran  — in my case from 1972-77, leaving the service as an NCO (E-5).  I have never found it necessary to claim I served in Vietnam.  I have never found it necessary to exaggerate what I did in the service.  And I did see how poorly both returning Vietnam vets and any of us who served during that period were treated by the American public, and am very proud of how much we revere our men and women in uniform today — including my son, a graduate of the Navy’s Nuclear Power School.

With your lies, Mr. Blumenthal, you dishonor us all.  If you had extended your lies to wearing Vietnam service ribbons or any medal you didn’t earn at any point, I believe (and I am not an attorney) you would literally have violated the law — I recall that being the findings in a California case recently.  If you are asking us to believe that you lied unintentionally, then you are also asking us to believe that you have so little grasp of what’s coming out of your mouth that you don’t know when you’re lying.  You can’t have it both ways.

So…dig deep, Mr. Blumenthal, and let’s see if you really have a pair.  Stop lying about your lying.

Jonathan Bernstein

[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an industry leading crisis management consultancy, editor of the Crisis Manager newsletter, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.  In his more than two decades as a crisis management professional, he has represented many clients that have been unfairly targeted by Attorneys General whose motives may not have been entirely pure, including Richard Blumenthal None of those clients in any way asked him to write this blog post.]