I haven’t really gone into this because, well, politicians do lie. (They’re professional liars.)
But also because the really offensive lie in this story, to me, is the “Vietnam vets were spat on” part of the story. That sort of thing just didn’t happen, and I get angry when people repeat it. Several times, reporters have done comprehensive searches of the news databases from that era, and no one’s ever been able to find anything even remotely like it.
So why the multitude of claims from vets that it happened? I’d guess it’s projection. An awful lot of these guys came home with a deep sense of guilt and shame over war atrocities, but this was hardly the culture where warriors could come home and truthfully unload the horrors of what they’d done in our name. (Look what happened to the soldiers who testified at the Winter Soldier hearing – including John Kerry, who’s still attacked for it.)
An old friend is a V.A. shrink who told me it’s pretty common for vets to deal with their shame by 1) completely denying and repressing the incidents that caused it and 2) fiercely attacking other vets who try to be honest about war atrocities. They’ve created a version of what happened they can live with, and they’re really, really angry if other vets disturb that delicate balance. Hence, the Swift Boat vets.
So they project, and they imagine another life for themselves because they one they have is too painful.
In Blumenthal’s case, Michael Eric Dyson had something interesting to say about it last night on “Real Time”. He was responding to Bill Maher’s disdainful comment that Blumenthal wasn’t at war, he was “only” in charge of the local Toys for Tots program.
Dyson said, “Why is being at war the only true test of manhood?”
That’s a question we should ask ourselves, and our politicians, every single day. Maybe we wouldn’t be destroying as many people.