The Milne Transcripts, part 8: Open mouth, insert foot, BITE DOWN HARD

The final installment in my only apparently endless series of posts from Scott Milne’s disasterrific July 25 interview on WDEV’s Mark Johnson Show, available for your cringing pleasure on Johnson’s podcast site. 

This time, we bring you some of Milne’s most spectacularly inarticulate moments. 

As you may recall, in part 1 of this series I reported Milne’s desire to fill “the need for a, hopefully what the people will judge me as an articulate voice of opposition to that.”

Keep hoping, brother. Milne went on to embody the polar opposite of “an articulate voice” of anything. At times, he sounded more like an unprepared high-schooler bullshitting his way through an essay than a serious, major-party candidate for the state’s highest office.

Milne had a lot of trouble with health care reform. For several minutes, he got confused between Vermont Health Connect (the current system) and single-payer health care (Governor Shumlin’s ultimate goal). But he began his tiptoe through the minefield with this answer to Johnson’s basic question, “New problems with Vermont Health Connect have been revealed this week. What would you have done differently?”

Whether you’re for or against Obamacare, i.e. the Affordable Care Act, it’s a national law and I think the Founding Fathers set up this federal government that enables states to do a lot of things and enables states to be the incubators of best practices. And one of the fundamental principles of our campaign is that the more locally a decision can be made, the better it is. I would trust a decision by a selectboard or a city council over a state legislature when it makes sense, and clearly a decision made by a state legislature over the federal government when it makes sense.

That was just the preamble to a long, discursive response that could be boiled down to “Shumlin bad.” See what I mean about the unprepared high schooler?

But wait, there’s more. Milne repeatedly called the Shumlin Administration “reckless” in establishing Vermont Health Connect — but at the same time, he refused to take a stand for or against single-payer. That triggered this exchange:

Johnson: You called the Governor reckless on health care reform. You said it was too bold a move. How can you possibly go forward with single-payer?

Milne: Um… That’s a pretty, um, now I see why you’ve got your own show, Mark. Um. You know, it’s part of our strategy to get elected to spend August talking about the Shumlin Administration and their lack of management expertise, which is part of leadership, and the reckless ideas that have given them a greater opportunity to mismanage the affairs of the state. Um, I think that, ah, folks in your seats, i.e. the press, have let the Shumlin Administration get away without answering questions for six years. I’m new to this game; I should get 30 days.

Johnson: What questions haven’t the press asked Shumlin about health care?

Milne: I didn’t say you didn’t ask ’em, I said you let ’em get away without answering ’em. He hasn’t answered how he’s going to pay for it.

Johnson: Is that the fault of the press for not getting the answer out of him?

At this point, Milne seemed to realize that he’d just directly insulted his host, a longtime member of the Vermont media on radio and in print, and all of his colleagues in the media. You know, the folks who’ll be reporting on his campaign. And suddenly, his brain sounded Retreat!!!

Milne: No, no. I mean, but, but I’m saying — uh, no, it’s not the way I — I think, I think it’s, um, I think, I think um, it’s a, it’s a great question. I think it is not the fault of the press, but that, um, letting somebody get away with changing the subject when there’s, you know, an elephant in the room that they’re ignoring, uh, we should be reminding people about the elephant and not talking about the distractions.

Ugh. It’s not the press’s fault, but they did let Shumlin get away with it. In other news, the bank was robbed but it’s not the guards’ fault.

I could bring you many more examples of Milne’s inability to produce coherent sentences, but I’ll just skip to the end of the interview. Johnson, taking some pity on his shriveled husk of an interviewee, tossed Milne a softball for his final question: “Tell us about a life experience you’ve had that would convince people that you should be Governor.”

Fasten your seat belts. It’s gonna be a bumpy ride…

Um, well, let’s see. A life experience I’ve had that would convince people I should be Governor. Um, hopefully the opportunity to meet me over the next 60-90 days, have a conversation, realize I’m really not trying to sell you anything. I mean you talked about fundraising, I’m a little uncomfortable calling people asking for money, but, um, I, I think my whole life experience is one of growing up in Vermont, um, been interested in what’s going on, I’ve met every Governor of my lifetime in Vermont, which is one of the great blessings of being in Vermont, it’s sort of like being in New Hampshire every four years, you can meet primary candidates for Presidents if you want to.

Um. Got a good history in Vermont. I’ve got a political science degree. Paid attention to issues. But I guess my whole life is, you know, there’s reasons why maybe you don’t want to vote for me, and, ah, hopefully you realize I’m, uh, in this, ah, not for my personal ego, uh, I don’t know that this is a great, um, experience for my business, uh, but I just felt like, um, somebody needed to step up and point out the real danger to our future that’s, um, to me very, very apparent if we continue down the road we’re on and it, ah, and the Shumlin Administration seems to be doubling down on everything they’ve done over the last four years now and, they start doing an about-face in the next 60 days, my guess is going to be because they read a poll and realized that’s what they had to do.

Yeah, that “life experience” question is a real stumper. Good grief, Johnson gave you a chance to be a relatable human being and garner some sympathy for your quixotic cause. And all you could do was kick it around for a couple of minutes and leave people wondering what the hell you were talking about.

There you go. My eight-part guide to one of the most disastrous interviews in Vermont political history.

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