Thursday, May 27, 2010

Discretion is the Better Part of (Non-) Valor

Word comes today that Dick Blumenthal has canceled his Memorial Day appearances in Greenwich, including being the featured speaker at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club's annual commemoration. This is, your scribe believes, a wise move on his part.

Dick has been a steady attendee at this event over the years, as well as at the parade in Old Greenwich. He has lent an aura of gravitas to these occasions, being, as he is, our State's top law enforcement official. As recently as last November 11, Veterans' Day, he spoke movingly at the ceremony in front of the war memorial at the post office.

But at that event, as at so many others, Dick dressed himself in borrowed feathers, speaking eloquently if misleadingly of the taunts he and others had to bear as a result of being Vietnam vets. As we now all know, Dick was nothing of the sort, being at best a Vietnam-era Marine Reserves vet.

One is reminded of the hapless Falstaff playing possum on the battlefield of Shrewsbury, having proclaimed that "the better part of valour is discretion," and then rising from the dead to stand victoriously over the body of Henry Percy, whom he has the effrontery to claim that he "fought a long hour by Shrewsbury clock." Falstaff's lies are so egregious that we laugh, as Shakespeare uses him yet again for comic relief against the high drama of a realm torn by civil war.

Dick Blumenthal's "misstatements", however, are no laughing matter. He is no comic, bumbling stock figure of a Vice left over from a medieval morality play, but a highly-trained lawyer supposedly dedicated to the facts and the truth. He did not need to exaggerate his military service during the Vietnam period, but the fact remains that for whatever reason he did. And so his credibility is in shreds, just like that of fat, old, pathetic Jack Falstaff.

If one were to continue the drama metaphor another step or two, one might be tempted to say that it was hubris that has brought Dick Blumenthal to grief. He thought he could lie, over and over and over again, and that no one would ever notice. And thus in the end, it seems, we are indeed left with a morality play on our hands. "Trouthe will oute": the words are as old as the English language. And still as true as ever.


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