05/23/2010 06:27 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

Richard Blumenthal and the Semper Fib Syndrome

Connecticut's Democratic Senate nominee is not the first person to fall in love with a man in uniform -- himself. And he won't be the last.

Richard Blumenthal admitted to sometimes misstating his military record when he referred to his service in the Vietnam War. He was in uniform during the Vietnam War era but as a Marine Corps reservist who didn't see any action beyond the Potomac River; by some accounts, only signed up when his number was up - a low draft lottery number - and his five draft deferments had played out.

The deep unpopularity of the Vietnam War, coupled with Bill Clinton's and Dick Cheney's own records on the matter, have made it more tolerable, if not acceptable, to have dodged military service. This is a bit of the flip side -- being in the military, but making more of it than was there.

It's hard to know whether this impostor syndrome -- which is probably as old as the Iliad -- was more pronounced during the years when the nation had a draft, and most young men were required to perform some kind of military service, or came into flower with a voluntary military, when anyone in uniform was there by choice and lauded all the more for it.

But Blumenthal's putting his stateside service on a par with Vietnam combat steps into muddier waters, where others have gone before -- although unlike Blumenthal, some men have crafted an entire life, an entire identity, around a stolen military stature.