A Limp Dick

Today's New York Times features a front-page, above the fold story about Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal. To call the piece unflattering is an understatement. The real question is whether it is a sufficient spike to put to death Blumenthal's ambition to obtain a seat in the U.S. Senate.

First, the gory truth: The Attorney General has lied, and routinely so, about his war record. He has led others to believe time and again that he served in Vietnam. In fact, he sought deferment after deferment -- five according to the Times, and enlisted in the Marine reserves only as a last resort. After boot camp, he served in a unit for the well-heeled and well-connected, performing such hazardous duty as constructing tent platforms for a children's camp and passing out Toys for Tots. The closest the man who would be Senator ever came to a body bag, apparently, was passing out Barbies in toy store bags.

Hours after the Times hit the Internet, the story was all over Twitter. It's okay to lie about being at Woodstock, one writer noted, but not about Vietnam. Pretending to be a battle-scared hero in speeches to veterans' groups is close to sacrilege.

Then another whopper, although this merely pathetic. He permitted various news organizations to report that he was the captain of the Harvard swim team. Of course, the Times reports, he was never even on the team. When confronted, he appears to suggest that he cannot possible read all his press.

This rings mighty hollow from a man who courts the press so assiduously that one of Connecticut's top political jokes notes that the most dangerous location in the state is the space between Blumenthal and a television camera. One of the swim team references occurred in the now defunct Northeast Magazine, previously published by the state's largest, and the nation's oldest, newspaper, the Hartford Courant. A profile in the magazine is worth its weight in gold. I know. I was featured in a cover story in 1999, and count the piece as perhaps the best publicity I have ever had. The magazine referred to me, boast, boast, as a "brilliant and audacious trial lawyer." It must be true if it is in the Courant.

Blumenthal has had his eyes on the prize of higher office for well more than a decade. He hires and pays for a press secretary. He reads his clips, as do all well who live and die by the shadows we cast.

The Times reports that Blumenthal has a reputation as a brilliant lawyer. I am not so sure of that. There are many brilliant lawyers in his office, were I to name but a few -- Greg A'Auria, Perry Zinn-Rowthorn, Steven Strom, Margaret Chapple -- for example, I would offend many others by omission. Blumenthal has an eye for talent. He is a brilliant administrator. But brilliance as a lawyer? I've not seen it.

I've argued against him in cases that pass his justiciability threshold: the presence of reporters. He breezes in, cool as a cucumber chilled to just the right crispness. Handed a brief prepared by others, which he has no doubt read on his limousine ride to the court, he recites his lines well. He even argued a case against my firm in the United States Supreme Court, Porter v. Nussle, involving prisoner's rights. He was letter perfect, a former Supreme Court clerk showing his old bosses that he was still in the game. But brilliant? Word on the street in Connecticut is that he does not prepare his own cases. I cannot recall the last time he actually questioned a witness, a task in which lawyers learn that things can go bump in the broad light of day. Blumenthal is brilliant, all right, but not at lawyering.

His biography in the States Register and Manual reads like a press release for desire and passion sublimated to ambition. He and Elena Kagan are bedfellows of a depressingly similar type.

Finally, there is the question the Times did not write about: His wealth. A federal disclosure form reflects that he is worth at least $60 million. His wife, the heiress to the fortune flowing from Empire State Building rents, has a cool million dollars in the family's checkbook. As yet, he has not pledged his fisc to his campaign to fill the seat to be vacated by the retiring Senator Christopher Dodd. Instead, he's working the state like a one-armed bandit, seeking small contribution from folks who are lucky to have anything in their check accounts. A good friend called me the other day to report he'd no longer support Blumenthal: It was offensive to have this son of the Order of the Silver Spoon work play at Grey Poupon populism.

So is Blumenthal now dead in the water?

Probably not. For all his faults, he is not Linda McMahon, his republican challenger. She and her husband are worth several times more than the Blumenthal family. The McMahon fortune was made at a more explicit form of fraud: creating and marketing the World Wrestling Entertainment. Call her Hulk Hogan's mommy, if you will. And she acts the part. Were she a man, we'd say she had brass, er, spheres.

Blumenthal has done a good job as a consumer's attorney general. Replacing him will be difficult. He has the intelligence and vision to lead the state's largest law firm. Revelations that he is liar call into question whether he has the right stuff for the Senate, however.

Politics in Connecticut this season is a grim affair. The two leading candidates to replace Dodd, the man whose sweetheart "loans" from Countrywide should have landed him an indictment, are a brilliant mannequin and the queen of wreslemania. Two wealthy nabobs bobbing for votes in a sea of unemployed and discontented voters. It feels like ancient Rome; the Republic is crumbling and we get a man playing role of Cato, but lacking Cato's gravitas, as one candidate for consul. On the other hand, one of Nero's stage mistresses saunters by for approval, the grime of the coliseum still fresh on her brow. I hardly know where to turn.

Blumenthal's lies won't dislodge him from the race. That would leave us with McMahon, who is no choice at all. In the 2010 election for the U.S. Senate, we are left with a limp Dick as the better choice for office. No, make that a mighty limp Dick.

What next, Dick, did you, too, help invent the Internet? Or is that your signature I see there on the Declaration of Independence?

NOTE: The Limpster will hold a press conference today. His camp his claiming the Times piece is filled with half-truths. Perhaps. But the Times' research seems pretty solid. Will the Limpster show us a war wound that is not self-inflicted?

Comments: (5)

  • Looks like Blumenthal's free pass from the press i...
    Looks like Blumenthal's free pass from the press is over, at least with some out-of-state papers. I've called Connecticut's TV Channel 8 virtually Blumenthal's production company. Blumenthal's main accomplishment in his many years as attorney general is to pacify the press and get it to collude with him in creating a misleading image.
    No one can tell me anything about Blumenthal's hollowness, failure as a leader and an administrator too (despite what Pattis says), and enabler of the criminalization and politicalization of the state's attorneys system. My experience and exposure of this is recorded at my website/blog in postings and an ebook (chapters down the right side of the site).
    As I've reported in other postings, Blumenthal's multifarious failures and shady acquiesence and probable encouragement as attorney general have had an effect of the highest levels of CT politics, namely the governor's race. The state's investigation into Stamford Mayor Dan Malloy was hastily and quietly dropped when Malloy learned about my criminal accusations against state's attorneys as well as corporate attorney's they were in league with. Malloy had always said the investigation was political. It clearly had a shaky if nonexistent legal basis if it was dropped under such circumstances. What happened was that the state's attorneys abandoned an instance of politicalization in order to keep under cover the criminalization which would undoubtedly become known if they didn't back off on Malloy.
    The N. Y. Times is not to be congratulated for its belated report on Blumenthal's fantasy Vietnam War record. The newspaper was contacted many times by me with information and evidence on my accusations of criminal activity and corruption throughout the state's attorney's system and other parts of the CT public and private legal system. Like most media these days, the Times is timid and addled. Like Blumenthal, the newspaper was missing in action.
    Posted on May 17, 2010 at 5:57 pm by Henry Berry
  • Don't disillusion me. You mean you are NOT a "bri...
    Don't disillusion me. You mean you are NOT a "brilliant and audacious trial lawyer"?
    So many people have been caught cheating on their past and their resumes, you would think no one would even try anymore.
    Posted on May 17, 2010 at 10:38 pm by Jamison
  • Time for Dick BloominTall to exit, Stage Left. Thi...
    Time for Dick BloominTall to exit, Stage Left. This nattering nabob of effete corps of impudent snobs has done plenty of damage to the state's reputation as the 'Constitution State'. An appellation we now know to be entirely false and nowhere near the truth.
    Fudging your military record is absolutely unforgivable; and if past is prologue, this fact alone disqualifies him from serving in the U.S. Senate. In hindsight, the man was never qualified to serve as AG. And as far as the press goes, including the 'alternate' press, the fastest way to get excommunicated from The New Haven Independent is to criticize its emperor-mayor, Mr. Frankenstuff. And the fastest way to get excommunicated from the Connecticut News Junkie was to criticize your pathetic attorney general, a man who is neither a real attorney nor a real general.
    Residents of CT will just have to muddle thru, maybe go 'back to the drawing board' of Founding Principles. There are plenty of other politicos in the state who need to be replaced. (They know who they are.)
    I wonder if Busy Bysie still wants the job? I hope she is paying attention.
    Posted on May 18, 2010 at 12:58 am by William Doriss
  • Blumenthal's skewering of the chiropractic profess...
    Blumenthal's skewering of the chiropractic profession, which quixotically took on the health insurance companies, showed me once and for all where this man stands.
    It is certainly not -- as he has so long led us to believe -- on the side of the little guy. In that case, the little guys took on Goliath, and Blumenthal was more than happy to help the hammer come down.
    As a lifelong knee-jerk, bleeding heart liberal Democrat, I would vote for a mashup of Sarah Palin and Rick Perry before I would vote for Blumenthal as my senator.
    Posted on May 18, 2010 at 5:09 am by Dr. Avery Jenkins
  • Why do businesses rate Bluemthal the worst AG in t...
    Why do businesses rate Bluemthal the worst AG in the country? Could it be he goes after buinesses even if they haven't done anything wrong and in some cases pushes them out of business. Is it a coincidence that CT ranks at the bottom for being business friendly in every business poll?
    Posted on May 18, 2010 at 5:21 am by John Schmidt

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