For no particular reason, the Burlington Free Press chose to give over its November 28 front page to the smiling mug of Lt. Gov. Phil Scott.
News hook? Well, it was Small Business Saturday, the traditional bleat of locality that follows the irresistible onrush of Black Friday. The Freeploid could have marked the occasion by profiling some local gift creators or counting down its Top Ten Vermont Gift Ideas or some such retail puffery. Instead, it provided some invaluable servicing to Scott.
The pretext? Well, he’s got these faux-tiedyed stickers urging folks to “Buy Local — It’s Not Just for Hippies Anymore.”
Stickers he’s been giving out for YEARS. Stickers that are not, in any way, fresh or new or newsworthy. Stickers that emit a faint undertone of contempt for alternative lifestyles.
Besides, when the hell was “Buy Local” only for hippies?
Vermont Teddy Bear. Lake Champlain Chocolates. Beer, beer, beer, beer, cider, beer. Cheese. Hundreds, if not thousands, of artists, artisans and craftspeople. (Never mind; they’re all hippies.) Farm-Way. King Arthur Flour. The Vermont Country Store. Food products from Vermont farmers, the very bedrock of our imagined self — and of the Republican Party, come to think of it.
I’ll stop arguing with Phil Scott’s stickers and get back to the main point: the Free Press is in the tank for Phil.
The substance of the article, such as it is, relates the thoughts of the major-party candidates for governor on the subject of buying local. Nothing wrong with that; it’s a perfectly cromulent way to generate some local content on a holiday weekend when the newsroom is even emptier than usual. But the article is heavily, and unnecessarily, draped in a cloak of Phil Scott knob-polishing.
For the most part, the candidates dutifully bowed before the altar of Buy Local. Sue Minter sung the praises of Pete’s Greens. I suppose Phil Scott might label Pete Johnson a “hippie,” but Pete is doing some groundbreaking work in making agriculture into an economic driver. Upper Valley resident Matt Dunne shouted out to Farm-Way and King Arthur Flour.
Scott also talked up Farm-Way, plus his endearingly humble habit of buying his kids gift certificates for veterinary services.
And then there was Bruce Lisman, who revealed his inner capitalist. He just couldn’t bring himself to endorse “Buy Local.”
When Lisman picks up on a hint from his wife or family members, he’ll shop anywhere, local or elsewhere, to find the perfect gift.
… “Buying local is important, but maybe this year it might be important to find the right thing to buy for a loved one,” he said.
Yes, our steely-eyed Wall Street panjandrum can’t be bothered with buying local, or even pretending to care.
It was an oddly discordant note in an otherwise boilerplate narration of a political truism: that Vermont is a uniquely virtuous place, and gift items from Vermont imbue the recipient with a touch of that virtue.
(Please note that my comments concern the journalistic merits of the story, not of buying local. We buy local all the time. In fact, we make a lot of our holiday gifts ourselves. Can’t get more local than that.)
Again, nothing wrong with the Free Press filling a couple pages with holiday bumpf. But why does Phil Scott get star billing, hmm?