Does Hatch really want to go down this road?

DOES HATCH REALLY WANT TO GO DOWN THIS ROAD?…. We learned yesterday that this was coming, but part of me hoped someone would pull Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) aside and explain that this is a mistake.

No such luck. Hatch wants to amend an existing law, which makes it illegal to lie about military service, to also make it illegal to make false claims about having served in a war. The Utah senator said:

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.

It seems pretty obvious that Hatch is targeting Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D), since Hatch has spent 34 years in the Senate, and it never occurred to him to pursue this measure until this week.

But I wonder if the senator appreciates what his partisan stunt might mean for some of his Republican friends. George W. Bush made false claims about his war record, as did Ronald Reagan. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) greatly exaggerated his service in the first Gulf War, and Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Illinois, claimed on his website to be “the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom,” which isn’t true. In California, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Chuck DeVore has had some trouble on this front, too.

Does Hatch really want to subject his GOP allies to a fine and possible jail time?

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.