Public Nuisances

Posted: Jun 01, 2011 12:17 PM
Public Nuisances
WASHINGTON -- Here we are now in the afterglow of another Memorial Day. The flags and the bunting are being put away. The memories endure for another year of our honored dead, of the brave wounded, of the veterans -- some grizzled, some still youthful -- all deserving their country's gratitude. Then there are the impostors, who have created -- often from zilch military honors -- whole careers, records of heroism and splendid triumphs. What wretches!

One is Joseph Brian Cryer, 45, who claimed to be a U.S. Navy SEAL and boasted online of his "77 confirmed kills" during a glorious operation in Libya in 1986. A genuine SEAL, Don Shipley, exposed Cryer as an impostor. Shipley has taken it upon himself to expose frauds and veterans who engaud their war records. It must be a full-time occupation. This kind of thing happens surprisingly often and very much in public. A best-selling historian was suspended for a year from his college teaching position for bragging to his students of his Vietnam War feats, and oh, yes, he claimed exploits on the football field, too. Both claims were fabrications. Now with SEAL Team 6's exploits in snagging Osama bin Laden, SEALs are turning up everywhere.

Cryer admitted his hoax to The Washington Examiner, explaining that he had confected the story as "a coping mechanism" because of some grievance he had against the Navy. He did serve in the Navy in the 1980s, but as a seaman, not as a SEAL. I thought a "coping mechanism" was a euphemism for drowning one's problems in booze or some other addiction. Now a coping mechanism is a lie. Well, it did not help Cryer.

Actually, in Cryer's case, his embellishments are somewhat understandable. He was running for office. He was a candidate for City Council in Ocean City, Md., in 2006. He was just doing what a lot of successful politicians do. They run claiming achievements that are completely fictional, and those who are caught often win office anyway.

Remember Richard Blumenthal, who was the attorney general of Connecticut? He ran for the U.S. Senate claiming, "We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam." That was a lie, but the Hon. Blumenthal repeated it in various forms throughout his campaign. In truth, he received no fewer than five military deferments and finally a sweet job in the Marine Corps Reserve. He also lied about his athletic career. Contrary to his claim, he never was captain of the Harvard swimming team or even swam on the team. The voters elected him nonetheless.

How many other whoppers had this fraud told pursuant to becoming a member of the Senate in 2011? I would suggest his record abounds with them. However, so do the records of countless other politicians. There is Jimmy Carter's claiming to be a nuclear engineer. There is Sen. Jean-Francois Kerry's launching his campaign for the presidency as a war hero, despite his taped appearance before Congress in which he denounced the war and alleged that his comrades had committed war crimes. There is Al Gore's getting ensnared in a thicket of petty lies, beginning with his campaigns for the Senate, continuing with his campaign for the presidency and culminating with his present campaign, in which he serves as the world's chief proponent and exploiter of global warming. It has made him millions, and forget not the Clintons. They are the longest-running con act in American history, with Bill's conning his draft board and Hillary's creating her visit to a Marine recruiter -- or was it an Army recruiter?

So I can understand if Joseph Brian Cryer feels a little abused. Had he won his campaign for City Council, he would be on his way to greatness. He could have been a Joe Biden. Maybe from the City Council, he would have sought the governorship, possibly the Senate. By then, he would have received a Purple Heart, possibly a Medal of Honor. He had his whole life before him until the spoiler Shipley struck. Shipley has denied the masses another hero. How many more politicians' lives will Shipley destroy?

Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is the founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His new book is "After the Hangover: The Conservatives' Road to Recovery." To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at