Euphemism, NYT-style

Why can’t the New York Times call a spade a spade? This is how it reports Connecticut Attorney-General Richard Blumenthal’s claim — in a speech to military veterans — that he had served in Vietnam:

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

There was one problem: Mr. Blumenthal, a Democrat now running for the United States Senate, never served in Vietnam. He obtained at least five military deferments from 1965 to 1970 and took repeated steps that enabled him to avoid going to war, according to records.

The deferments allowed Mr. Blumenthal to complete his studies at Harvard; pursue a graduate fellowship in England; serve as a special assistant to The Washington Post’s publisher, Katharine Graham; and ultimately take a job in the Nixon White House.

In 1970, with his last deferment in jeopardy, he landed a coveted spot in the Marine Reserve, which virtually guaranteed that he would not be sent to Vietnam. He joined a unit in Washington that conducted drills and other exercises and focused on local projects, like fixing a campground and organizing a Toys for Tots drive.

And the headline over this story?

This seems a bit of an understatement, to put it mildly. A British tabloid would doubtless scream “Attorney-General Lied About Serving in Vietnam”. The Guardian might have “Memory Loss Afflicts Top Lawyer”.

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