Almost two weeks ago, I contacted the Phil Scott campaign asking for some simple but crucial information. It ought to be readily available, a simple email away.
The response to my repeated emails and phone calls?
Nothing. Not even a courtesy “Hey, we got your message and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.”
Here’s my question. Phil Scott regularly claims that over the past six years of Democratic governance*, taxes and fees have increased by $700 million.
*He never refers to Peter Shumlin by name, it’s always the collective Democrats. Hive mind?
All I want is the numbers. Which taxes and which fees have increased by how much? When you add them up, do they equal $700 million?
C’mon, if I were running a campaign and making that kind of claim, I’d make sure I had the figures close at hand. Indeed, he shouldn’t in good conscience make that claim unless he knows it’s true.
I can only think of three explanations for the Scott campaign’s silence.
One, they don’t have the numbers.
Two, the numbers don’t add up to $700 million.
Three, they’re deliberately ignoring me.
I’d like to think that the first two possibilities are beneath a man of integrity like Phil Scott. Which leaves me the third.
Now, I’ve given the Scott campaign plenty of reasons to dislike me. But to shut me out? That’s beyond the pale. That’s a level of vengefulness and/or pettiness unworthy of Phil Scott.
I mean, if his people can’t handle a factual request from a liberal blogger who has earned a place in the Vermont media landscape through his own hard work*, then how in the H-E-double-hockey-sticks will he face up to the much greater challenges of managing state government?
*Hey, intellectual entrepreneurship! Surely Phil Scott approves.
Of getting along with people who disagree with him or have been publicly critical of him?
Facing facts, if he’s elected governor he will have to deal with large Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. One of the foundational claims of his campaign is that he is a guy who can get along with everybody and build consensus. He can get anyone to come to the table.
Am I really that much of a threat, that the Scott camp dares not have the slightest contact with me?
Maybe so. After all, one of the persistent characteristics of the Scott candidacy has been timidity. His platform remains an impenetrable wordcloud of platitudes and generalities. He refuses to get specific about any area of policy — he can’t even give a single example of a government program he would cut.
His campaign seems to be playing out the clock, limiting their candidate’s exposure to potentially unfriendly settings. You can see it in their attitude toward the debate schedule: at first, they tried to limit the number of debates and their sponsors, and fought for the inclusion of Bill “Spaceman” Lee in every debate.
They have somewhat temporized that stance, mostly because they had earlier agreed to specific one-on-one debates with the Democratic nominee and they’d look terrible if they pulled out.
But they still refuse to participate in WDEV Radio’s annual Tunbridge Fair debate because moderator Mike Smith wants a Scott/Minter face-off.
Talk about chickenshit. Smith’s a lifelong Republican, and WDEV is Phil Scott’s best buddy in the media; they’ve cozied up to him for years. He is their favorite politician. They’ve given him endless airtime for his auto racing and his Wheels for Warmth charity.
Not that I would expect Smith to give Scott a free ride. He’s reasonably fair in his WDEV Radio duties, and I’d expect him to be a decent moderator. My point is, Phil Scott wouldn’t exactly be going into the lions’ den. And my secondary point is, you’d think he would feel a tinge of loyalty to an outlet that’s shown him a bucketload of love in the past.
Of course, Scott famously stiffed downtown Waterbury’s WInterfest because his chief advisor Dick Wobby thought it was too risky for his guy to get on the ice with the other gubernatorial candidates for a friendly game of broomball. Phil Scott, almost certainly the most physically fit candidate in the race.
There’s a pattern here. A pattern of evasion; a campaign seemingly animated by fear, not courage. A faint clucking in the distance, a trail of claw tracks in the chickenshit.
Have I made myself clear? Okay, then.
The invitation remains open. I would honestly like to know how the Scott campaign arrived at the $700 million figure. I think the voters deserve to know. (And I really hope I’m not the only media person who’s making this inquiry. If our political media are giving Scott a pass on this, then they’re failing to do their job.)
If I do get an answer, I will post an update at the top of this post, indicating that the Scott campaign finally came through.
And then I’ll write a post assessing the truthfulness of Phil Scott’s taxation claim. Which is all I wanted to do in the first place.