Apology needs the right audience

Last week provided a grueling stretch of days for my son. First he visited Bethesda Naval Hospital to see a fellow Marine, who returned from Afghanistan a few weeks ago short of two legs and a hand. The next day, my son was off to Quantico National Cemetery to attend the burial of another Marine buddy. Thankfully, the vile people from Westboro Baptist Church — who revel in appearing at military funerals to express their thanks for roadside bombs — weren’t around. Even lunacy takes a day off, I suppose.

The mention of these things carries no overarching point in its wake. Instead, I bring them up only because they caused me to think about Richard Blumenthal, the attorney general of Connecticut and the man who wishes to move up to the U.S. Senate. He’s also the fellow who served stateside in the Marine Corps Reserve during the Vietnam War, but who led people to believe that he’d seen combat. When caught in the lie, Blumenthal’s first reaction was to declare it was a simple slip of the tongue. Only later did he actually apologize.

I didn’t talk with my son about any of this. As with any war veteran, he endures endless solicitations to offer opinions on such matters, and I don’t wish to be yet somebody else trying to cajole a judgment out of him. Besides, I don’t have the standing to do so. I skipped the military altogether (although not by much, a story best left for another day).

Instead, I would suggest you read this piece by a Washington Post staff writer, who served in Vietnam and who describes the pitiful lies and excuses other men offer when the subject of Vietnam comes up. Blumenthal, it seems, is just the latest in a long parade. He hasn’t asked me for advice, but I’ll give it anyway: Go to Bethesda and do your apologizing there.

6 Responses to “Apology needs the right audience”

  1. Doug Says:

    Blumenthal, as Attorney General of CT, has spent a career in a world of precision, prosecuting people who may have had a “slip of the tongue”. The man not only didn’t apologize at first for misleading people (only later did he do so through a 3rd party email) he accused anyone who questioned him on the issue as “impugning” his military service”. The man was more than happy to have fawning articles in the press mis-stating his service in Vietnam and took no steps to correct them. He was happy to have people assume that he had been there. He carried his game too far and is now paying the price (or at least I hope he pays a price).

    Real heroes don’t have to tell you what they did. Thier actions speak for themselves.

  2. John Says:

    Gearino,
    Your son breathes rarified air. He’s a combat veteran.

    Like the WP staffer mentioned, that’s a distinction you can’t buy with a family pedigree or an Ivy League education. You can’t manufacture it with a memory fart forty years in the making either - not for long anyway.

    Whether it’s a discretionary action or born of mandate, anybody who served their country in a combat theater deserves only admiration, gratitude and respect.

    Those of us whov’e never been closer to hostile fire than the latest Hanks/Speilberg collaboration can only imagine what it must be like. Forgive us then, when we goad veterans to share any shred of their experiences with us.

    And maybe forgive those who’s craving to enter the fraternity of combat vets overwhelms their good judgment and compromises integrity.

    Apparently, it’s a powerful temptation.

  3. John Says:

    …and here’s one vote that says you, George Dante Gearino, woulda made one damn fine…Army journalist.

    Had fate allowed, you coulda been your generation’s Ernie Pyle or Andy Rooney or “Joker” from Full Metal Jacket.

    Sometimes I have issues distinguishing fantasy from reality.

    But be that as it may, you long drink of water, I’m reminded of a tale once told me by a co-worker and Army conscript of the Vietnam era.

    After completing basic training, his duty never called him to venture outside the state of New Jersey. His permanent detail was to paint the lines in government parking lots.

    If you could get a few beers in him (not much of a challenge acutally) he’d open up a bit about his tour. Without fail, every “war story” this sumbitch told opened with “…there was this one parking lot…”

  4. John Says:

    Rumor has it G. Dan did get his feet wet as a combat correspondent - sort of. Back in the 1980’s he was a stringer for Grit, the family newspaper read by dozens.

    They sent his happy ass to cover the Grenada conflict. Yep, Dan was there in-country for Operation Mudlark.

    Dan even paid his own way down there - that was Grit’s condition for sending him. Well that, and he couldn’t mention he worked for them - he had to surrender his credentials before he left.

    He witnessed many a stirring sight while dodging rocks and bee bee’s aimed in his general direction by pissed off Grenadians or Grenadiers or whatever the hell you call them.

    His best effort, reportage-wise, was his account of platoon of Marines sent to extract female med students who were sunbathing on the roof of their dorm.

    Entitled “We’re U.S. Marines! Are You Decent?”, the article earned Dan his first journalistic attaboy - a coveted Popie, named for Generalissimo Pope, publisher of the National Enquirer.

  5. Sheila Says:

    I am so happy that Evan is healthy and whole after his service to our country. That said, I am disgusted with what Blumenthal has done. There is no way his claim to have served in Vietnam was a slip of the tongue. It was just a lie, plain and simple. I will never understand how politicians think they can lie, regardless of the subject, and no one will check out the facts.

  6. Mikey Says:

    I did not have sex with that woman…Ms. Lewinsky. Not one single time.