Via the inimitable digby we learn that Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is introducing an amendment to the 2005 Stolen Honor Act that would make it a crime to lie about serving in combat in order to win an election.
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.
Gee, I wonder who he’s going after with that? (Hint: Richard Blumenthal, the Democratic Senate candidate in Connecticut.)
However, this could have some unintended consequences. There are several people who have, to be charitable, stretched the truth about their time in combat. People like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who claims to be “an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran” when he never left the U.S.; George W. Bush, who said that he “learned some good lessons from Vietnam”; and of course there was Ronald Reagan himself who told people 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 left the U.S. during World War II.
I have a counter proposal for Mr. Hatch: make it a crime to lie about someone else’s service in combat in order to win an election. I think he might be able to get John Kerry to co-sponsor that one.