If the past couple of Sundays are anything to judge by, Mike Smith may be trying to recast himself as less of a partisan figure. The new host of Not The Mark Johnson Show on WDEV has been a devout Republican throughout his adult life, as far as I can tell; and until recently, his weekly opinion columns have consisted largely of Republican boilerplate.
The last two have been resolutely nonpolitical. But if he’s trying to rebrand himself as a nonpartisan for the sake of his radio credibility, he’ll have to watch what he says on WCAX, where he’s an occasional political analyst.
Several days ago, after Sue Minter formally entered the gubernatorial race, Smith appeared on Channel 3 along with fellow analyst Steve Terry. (Presumably they’re the Point-Counterpoint of WCAX.) And here’s an excerpt from their not-terribly-interesting analysis.
Steve Terry: This is now a wide-open race. It gives Democrats, those who vote in the primary, a real solid choice.
Mike Smith: The ability of both Shap Smith and Sue Minter to distance themselves from the Shumlin administration is going to be key for them.
Steve Terry: One of the things that I’m looking at among the three Democrats is how strong they push a single issue of job creation. They may mention jobs a little, but it’s never blank equals jobs.
Mike Smith: Right now, Phil Scott owns that fiscal message.
Okay, bud. Hold it right there.
“Phil Scott owns that message”?
Pray tell, why?
Phil Scott has done nothing to claim ownership of that message. Well, unless you count his endless Worker For A Day publicity stunts.
His “plan” for the economy and job creation is nothing more than a handful of vague bromides. According to his campaign website, he wants to see “a stronger economy” with “more people working in good paying jobs.” He also wants to “contain rising costs like health care and property taxes.”
Wow. How deep. How original.
I don’t blame him for the glittering generalities because these are the early days of a very long campaign. His rivals have been equally unspecific. But Mike Smith’s claim that Phil Scott “owns” the issue is completely baseless. It’s nothing more than wishful Republican thinking.
Postscript. The “jobs and economy” section of Phil Scott’s campaign website includes a quotation attributed to John F. Kennedy: “The rising tide lifts all the boats.”
Indeed, JFK did say that. Well, he used the more familiar and economical “A rising tide lifts all boats.”
But his speechwriter, Ted Sorensen, said it wasn’t original. The phrase has a much longer history, going back to at least the early 20th Century. In fact, Phil Scott’s formulation was the common usage back in the old days. JFK used the modern version.
I realize that pretending to quote prominent Democrats is something moderate Republicans do to show how nonpartisan they are. But Scott’s research team needs to be a bit more diligent.