The Milne Transcripts, part 1: An inauspicious beginning

On Friday July 25, Scott Milne sat down for his first extensive media interview since launching his Republican candidacy for Governor. He was a guest on The Mark Johnson Show on WDEV Radio; Mark has archived the interview as a podcast. 

It’s a rich vein of material, and I’ll be rolling it out in sections over the next couple of days. I’ve transcribed the first 15 minutes so far, working my way through dense overgrowths of verbiage and sudden shifts of topic, delivered in a quick, stumbly, nervous monotone.

Let me pause here and say that I have a lot of respect for Scott Milne the businessman, and I appreciate his courage in taking on the thankless task of challenging Governor Shumlin. And just as he doesn’t mean to “vilify” Shumlin by referring to him as brazen, bullying, headstrong, radical, and ultra-progressive, I don’t mean to vilify Milne when I say that his performance was so inept as to be almost unlistenable, or that his campaign is off to a terrible, horrible, really bad start, or that any chance he had of mounting a serious challenge to the Governor has already evaporated like the mist of a midsummer morning. Nor when I call him the political equivalent to the 1962 Mets.

Nope, no vilification here.

He came across as a — well, here’s a choice quote:

I’m more interested in the campaign, making sure I’m out meeting Vermonters and reconfirming the reason I got into the race, which is a real fear of the direction the Shumlin Administration is taking the state, and the need for a, hopefully what the people will judge me as an articulate voice of opposition to that. 

Emphasis mine. “Articulate voice of opposition,” my Aunt Fanny.

Milne is a novice to the big political stage, and it may seem unfair to criticize his first sally. But good grief, he put himself in this position by jumping into the race at the last minute. He has no time for missteps, and he surely has no time for on-the-job training. He needed to hit the ground running with a coherent, convincing narrative. Instead, he’s hit the ground face first.

Want more? Oh Lord, there’s more.

There are some real problems with the economy in Vermont, there’s some real lack of leadership from the Shumlin Administration over the last four, or I would argue six years, ’cause he spent his last two years as President Pro Tem of the Senate really running for Governor. So he’s got six years into this, he still can’t even tell us too much about how he’s going to pay for VHC, to say nothing about taking accountability for the total mismanagement of it.

“Six years.”

Peter Shumlin’s been Governor since January 2011. Three and a half years. I don’t know what Milne is hoping to pull off with this six-year bit — which he also hammered home in a media scrum after his campaign launch. It’s transparently phony and unconvincing.

Milne then pivoted to another talking point, delivered with the same skill and grace.

Secondly, we’ve got this big problem with the school system, and we’ve got a Governor who, between vacations in Bimini or wherever his Caribbean vacation home is, and flyin’ all over the country to raise money from special interest groups, he found all kinds of time to do that during the Legislative session, but didn’t find the time or the need to roll up his shirtsleeves, walk across from the Pavilion fifth floor to the Capitol, sit down with House and Senate leaders and get something on the table that’s going to restructure property taxes so that, you know, you’re talking about my announcement in Barre, I stopped at Central Market, which has been there for at least two generations, I stopped in there for a coffee on my way over to my announcement on Wednesday at the Aldrich Public Library, ran into three people all of whom supported me emotionally, all of whom live in Florida and don’t live in Vermont anymore.

You can practically smell the smoke when he shifts mental gears from one talking point to another. He sounds like he’s been stuffed full of briefing notes and hasn’t had time to digest them. They just come spewing out in raggedy chunks whenever he opens his mouth.

Again, I am not vilifying Scott Milne, whom I respect as a person and businessman.

That’s enough for part 1. Coming up in the second installment: Milne makes a striking accusation against Governor Shumlin, the man he is not at all vilifying. And he provides not a speck of evidence.

Stay tuned, and getcha popcorn ready.

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