Two more points seem worth making re: Blumenthal.
First, I’m not a great fetishizer of political consensus. But I think this is one of those rare, nice, moments in American politics where pretty much all-non hacks agree for the right reasons. I haven’t been paying that much attention, but just going by the editorial pages and the like, it seems that pretty much everyone outside the realm of naked partisan politics agrees that Blumenthal is a liar and shameful one at that. Democrats haven’t abandoned him — yet — but I haven’t seen many liberals marshall anything like an actual defense of the man’s behavior. It reminds me a bit of the reaction to Roman Polanksi. He had more robust defenders, but they fell into two camps: His friends and certain kinds of depraved artistes and sophisticates. Among non-vested commentators on the left and right, everyone basically agreed that both Polanksi’s behavior and the defenses of his behavior were repugnant.
Second, I don’t understand why some people think Blumenthal’s behavior is so complicated. Beyond the arguments about “stolen valor” and whatnot, it seems the most basic motivation is seduction. Public speaking, particularly for big-ego politicians, is an act of seduction. Love me, respect me, think I am special. Bill Clinton was perfect example of this sort of thing. He had a long record of telling audiences what he thought they most wanted to hear, particularly if it made him seem heroic or special (remember his line about the Church burnings of his childhood?). Joe Biden did the same thing when he plagiarized those coal mining speeches.
As for Blumenthal, he mostly lied to audiences convened to celebrate the military. Blumenthal thinks it’s a defense that in other circumstances he has been honest about his service record. That’s ludicrous. Some men lie to women at bars about being rich and single. That they sometimes tell the truth to others about being middle class and married is no defense, never mind an exoneration. Blumenthal couldn’t resist lying to audiences about his service record when those lies were both the most compelling and the most inexcusable. It reflects a terribly weak and unreliable character and I am honestly at a loss as to how anyone could truly see it differently.