Billy Connolly on the TV show Head of the Class once said, “Hypocrisy is the vaseline of political intercourse.”
President Donald Trump’s attack on Senator Richard Blumenthal Monday was a striking example of this hypocrisy. Trump has frequently attacked the Senator about the latter’s Vietnam service.
On Monday, Trump’s tweet attacks on Blumenthal was after the latter had commented on the Russia investigation. Trump called Blumenthal a “phony Vietnam con artist” and accused him of having “lied or defrauded voters” about his Vietnam War experience. According to Trump, Blumenthal had told stories about his “battles and conquests.”
Blumenthal’s Vietnam Experience
Now, it is true Blumenthal inflated his Vietnam experience. He used to imply that he had actually served “in” Vietnam. In fact, he had served in the Reserves in Washington D.C. “during” the Vietnam War.
When Blumenthal ran in Connecticut’s 2010 Senate election, a New York Times story revealed Blumenthal’s real record. It turned out he was able to avoid going to war by getting five military deferments. Blumenthal had never gone to Vietnam.
After the report came out, Blumenthal apologized. But his Vietnam service was not a major issue for Connecticut voters. In 2010, he won his first Senate race with 52.5 percent of the vote. Blumenthal got 63.2 percent of the vote in his 2016 re-election.
Hypocrisy, Thy Name is Trump
It is sheer hypocrisy for Trump to accuse Blumenthal of being a con artist. One could argue that Trump himself is a phony con artist.
According to Politifact, Trump has only managed to keep 8.9 percent of the promises he made. Of course, he has had to face opposition from Congress and the courts. Trump should have expected the opposition — even though his party controls Congress. He forgot the fundamental rule of business: under-promise and over-deliver. Following that rule would perhaps have given him better ratings.
Further, for Trump to accuse Blumenthal of lies is also laughable. We all know, and expect, politicians to lie. Trump, however, has taken lying to new heights. At no other time can I recall a respected newspaper keeping an updated list of lies by a US President.
It is not just the media who are keeping a record of Trump’s lies. Do a Twitter search on the hashtag #TrumpLies. You will see ordinary people illustrating the President’s lies.
Hypocrisy on Military Service
Trump’s hypocrisy over Blumenthal’s Vietnam record is breathtaking. Trump himself managed to avoid service in the military. He received five draft deferments. He got four for being a student, and one for a physical condition.
Both Blumenthal and Trump were not exceptional in getting out of service in Vietnam. According to one estimate, a majority of those fighting in Vietnam were from poor or working-class backgrounds. This situation has not changed since the Vietnam war. All subsequent conflicts feature a similar background of soldiers.
Would politicians urge “perpetual war” if they or their offspring had to fight them? Politicians like to praise the military. However, when it actually comes to joining those in uniform, they and their kids seem to be far away.