Is Alabama gubernatorial candidate Robert Bentley (R) joining the ranks of Mark Kirk (R, Ill) and Richard Blumenthal (D, Conn.) as another aspiring politico padding a military resume? Some people watching his ads were left with the impression Bentley served in Vietnam. Not so. He's a Vietnam era vet, but served stateside.
In a campaign ad, Bentley talks about serving his country “with honesty and integrity.” The ad's video shows a military aircraft and the words “Hospital Commander Vietnam War.” Some callers to talk radio shows have complained that they thought he served in Vietnam.
Bentley's biography on his campaign website says he joined the Air Force in 1969, but his service was as a medical officer and then the commander of the hospital at Pope Air Force Base in North Carolina.
Here's a link to one of Bentley's ads called, ironically, “A Man's Word.” Below is a screenshot of the offending portion, clearly intended to link Bentley and Vietnam service in the minds of viewers:
The same shot is used in another Bentley ad, “Back to Work,” along with the image below, also clearly intended to link Bentley to Vietnam and military hospitals. The voiceover for those two images is “… served his country and healed troops wounded in Vietnam …”
The Gadsden Times article (link above) noted Bentley's campaign website includes text of a newspaper article (Michael Tomberlin, Birmingham News, May 17, 2010) that refers to him as a “Vietnam veteran.”
The honorable thing to do would have been to correct the record with that newspaper, not further distribute the politically helpful, but incorrect, label. Even the “commander of the hospital” claim may be technically correct, but isn't quite what it sounds like. Bentley told the Gadsden Times he was interim commander for “about three months,” which doesn't sound nearly as impressive as “commander of the hospital.”
Exaggeration of military career = Political stupidity. A definite mistake from a candidate who has run a charmed campaign to this point.