So, the initial infractions were the same for both men: Blumenthal said he served in Vietnam a few times, Kirk said he served in the Iraq War, and both of them were wrong. But it sure looks like Kirk went further than Blumenthal did. I'm not sure I really believe Blumenthal's errors were just innocent mistakes, but he is an older man who only made his mistake less than a handful of times. It is, I suppose, plausible that he's right about it, though it simply makes too much sense that he willfully exaggerated because voters like veterans. But, then again, Blumenthal didn't talk about getting the Silver Star or the Distinguished Service Cross while in Vietnam, and didn't talk about leading patrols against the VC, either.
Kirk, a U.S. Naval Reserve officer, really has served honorably, but he's also made several claims about his service record that proved to be false. First, Kirk claimed to be "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." That turned out to be untrue -- Kirk served during the conflict, not in it. Second, Kirk claimed to "command the war room in the Pentagon," which also turned out to be untrue. Over the weekend we learned that Kirk repeatedly claimed to have received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award, which was also wildly misleading.
Some of the errors appeared in official bios and related printed materials, but there are also instances in which Kirk personally and publicly exaggerated his record. As of this morning, there are now two videos of Kirk misleading the public.
So, I think it's hard to see how Kirk's embellishments aren't worse than Blumenthal's, and Kirk doesn't even have the excuse that decades have passed since then. Frankly, I'm not too crazy about either of them. I never served in the military, but I have respect for those who did, and while I realize that these sorts of competitive situations naturally encourage some padding of records, I cannot help but agree with Steve Benen in wondering why either of these guys felt the need to exaggerate at all.