Orrin Hatch inexplicably makes federal case out of Graham, Reagan and Bush lies

He's Doing It

by digby

He's really doing it:

Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) is attempting to amend the 2005 Stolen Honor Act, which criminalized false claims of military service, in order to punish people who lie about being in combat -- people like Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), a Senate candidate. Here's Hatch:

My amendment would add to this existing statute, making false statements regarding participation in combat operations. It appears to me that individuals make these false claims in order to obtain honorariums, employment, elected office or other positions of authority.

If convicted of this misdemeanor offense, the perpetrator could face 6 months in jail and/or a fine. This is the same penalty for falsely obtaining and wearing awards or medals.

I'd laugh it weren't so obvious that the Republicans are cranking up their scandal machinery (which relies on a flurry of unintelligible accusations that eventually adds up to a narrative of political "trouble.") Meanwhile, it might be useful to point out that this is going to result in some very uncomfortable moments in the Senate men's room:

Long before he was the Senate's most powerful sometimes-moderate who won't support the climate bill he helped draft because of personal pique, Lindsey Graham was just another politician who repeatedly lied about fighting in a war overseas.

According to his (current) official bio, "Graham logged six-and-a-half years of service on active duty as an Air Force lawyer." After he left the active duty force, he joined the South Carolina Air National Guard. During the first Gulf War, Graham was called up to act as staff judge advocate at McEntire Air National Guard Base in South Carolina. As staff judge advocate, Graham's duties "included briefing pilots on the law of armed conflict, preparing legal documents for deploying troops, and providing legal services for family members of the South Carolina Air National Guard. " His service never took him out of South Carolina.

And so, naturally, for years afterward, Lindsey Graham referred to himself in his official biography and elsewhere as "an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran."

And then there's this one:

Ronald Reagan told Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir and the Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal, in separate Oval Office visits, that as a young soldier in the U.S. Army Signal Corps during World War II, he had filmed the liberation of Nazi death camps; Reagan never served in Europe at all, though his work involved handling footage shot by military cameramen and war correspondents.

And then, of course, there's this:

"I've been to war. I've raised twins. If I had a choice, I'd rather go to war."
Houston Chronicle, January 2002

"I learned some good lessons from Vietnam. First, there must be a clear mission. Secondly, the politics ought to stay out of fighting a war. There was too much politics during the Vietnam War." Associated Press, March 2002

You can decide for yourself if any of those comments might reasonably be interpreted to mean these people were implying (or saying outright) that they had been in theater, when none of them had been. I don't recall anyone making a federal case out of it at the time. But hey, bring it on. Reagan's dead and Bush is retired. But Graham's still available, at least for questioning on the issue. He's an expert, after all.

And then maybe someone could introduce a bill that makes it illegal for war criminals to run for office. It would put a huge dent in the GOP's field, but if we are going to criminalize vague references to being a combat veteran, we probably need to think twice about veterans who've been charged with murder. Otherwise, this whole thing might look a little bit silly.