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So Richard Blumenthal, attorney general of leading Democratic candidate for Senate, lied about serving in Vietnam .

As a veteran I suppose I should be outraged that a fellow Marine would make such dishonest claims about serving in Vietnam. I do consider such attempts at deceipt sloppy and sad, disgraceful and disappointing, and—yes—just a little bit humorous. But Blumenthal’s exaggerations are not worthy of righteous indignation.

A truth that often remains unacknowledged is that all of us have catergories of lies that we regard as both unacceptable and easily forgivable. For some people it is lies of humilation—the type of lies a person tells to prevent the revelation a moral failing or humiliating conduct. For me, the easiest to forgive are lies of aspiration— the type of lies a person tells to make them appear more noble in character or conduct than they are in reality. Lies of aspiration are, like hypocrisy, the homage that vice pays to virtue. They show that a person still knows what virtues are worthy of emulation.

This is not to say, of course, that such lies should be easily excused or that such liars should not pay a price for their mendacity. But lies of aspiration reveal the forgivable failing of wanting to be a better person.  I am more sympathetic to someone who lies to others because they want to appear more noble than I am with those who lie merely to prevent being revealed as a person of low character.

While I wouldn’t support a politician who could lie as brazenly and carelessly as Blumenthal has done, I also wouldn’t support using this incident as the sole criteria for juding the man’s reputation.

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