The most irritable people in Vermont politics these days — and it’s not even close — are the hard-core Phil Scott supporters. They’ve even managed to out-outrage the anti-renewable crowd, which is really, really hard to do.
I’ve got a few Phil-o-philes in my Twittersphere, and boy do they get angry when I suggest that Phil Scott is anything less than the exemplar of the Perfect Politician. Here’s an all-too-typical sample.
— Andrick Deppmeyer (@DrickDepp) June 10, 2016
So let me try to explain how I see the guy.
I don’t hate Phil Scott. I think he’s a genuinely nice guy who’s managed to balance running a business and performing public service. An admirable person in many ways.
What i have no patience for is the Phil Scott hagiography that’s running rampant.
Phil Scott has served in state government for 15 years or so. During that time, he’s gotten along with almost everybody and made a lot of friends. As for his accomplishments or leadership, not so much. He hasn’t been a champion for any particular issue or issues. He hasn’t challenged the status quo in any real way. Why we should expect him to be different now, I don’t know.
The Scott campaign and its True Believers portray him as a visionary, a transformational figure who will grab state government by the lapels and turn it into a leaner, more efficient entity that will provide better service to Vermonters at lower cost.
That’s nonsense. The image bears no resemblance to the real-life Phil Scott who’s been in politics since the turn of the century.
None of this is to suggest that Phil Scott would be a bad governor. He would be perfectly adequate. He’d keep the lights on and the doors open and muddle through. He’s unlikely to screw anything up.
If you’re tired of the constant activity of the Shumlin years, if you think we’ve been trying too hard to reinvent government and be First In Everything, then maybe all you want is ta little peace and quiet. I can understand why you might feel that way. Shumlin can be abrasive, a meaty taco slathered in hot sauce; after eight years of that, a bowl of oatmeal can look awfully darn good.
Just don’t expect much more than that. Look: one of his own stated core principles is “Ensure a Predictable Political Environment.” There’s plenty of verbiage about working with everyone and bringing people together. Hell, his campaign’s tagline is “Leadership That Listens.”
So no, I don’t hate Phil Scott. I just refuse to embrace the uncritical hero-worship of his most devoted partisans.