Tales from the Trail

“Blumenthal mistake” – the birth of a catchphrase?


Joe Biden may have coined a new one.

Will ”Blumenthal mistake” – to claim service in the Vietnam War, while having served stateside in the National Guard – end up in some future dictionary of American political slang?

The U.S. vice president hosted a poolside barbecue on Tuesday night for wounded troops at his home at the U.S. Naval Observatory. During his remarks, Biden alluded to the experiences of troops coming home from Vietnam and joked: “I didn’t serve in Vietnam. I don’t want to make a Blumenthal mistake here. Our attorney general from Connecticut, God love him.”

Later on, he added,  “I have a bad habit of saying exactly what I think,” an acknowledgment of his own reputation for making verbal gaffes.

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s campaign for the U.S. Senate hit a snag this month when The New York Times reported that in at least one speech in 2008 he said he served in Vietnam during the war. Blumenthal did a stint with a Marine Corps Reserve unit that was never deployed overseas.

Blumenthal responded by saying he may have at times accidentally “misspoken” about his military record and won the Democratic nomination to seek the U.S. Senate seat despite the report. So maybe his “Blumenthal” will not have any long-term effect.

Obama uses V-word in Afghan speech, and we don’t mean victory

President Barack Obama uttered it four times in his speech at West Point about the way forward in Afghanistan.

It was the V-word that is often linked with the Q-word that conjures up the ghost of a past war that still is a raw wound in the American psyche.

USA/Obama charged head-on to try and address one of the key fears for Americans about continued involvement in an overseas war by saying that Vietnam, often described as a quagmire, was not Afghanistan.

Great gift ideas for the political animal

The Vietnam War caused the biggest political division in the United States since the Civil War. It also radicalized a generation and drove a president from office. Yet Democrats are using a photograph of two of the Vietnam War’s leading characters to try to rally the party and raise money.

The fund-raising outfit that helps elect Democrats to the U.S. Senate has opened the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Online Store “just in time for the holidays.”
Yes, there are the typical campaign buttons you’d expect. But besides being the first in your neighborhood with a fashionable DSCC mug, this year’s holidays also can be celebrated with a framed photo of President Lyndon Johnson, conferring with his secretary of defense. That would be Robert Strange McNamara, an architect of the American troop escalation in Vietnam.

“Every purchase helps get Democrats elected,” the DSCC says.

Nineteen Democratic-held seats are up for grabs in elections next year,  out of 38 races, and Democrats will have to fight hard not to lose seats in the 2010 mid-term elections.