(With apologies to all who now have the Greatest Hits of Bobby Goldsboro stuck in your head.)
A rather curious thing showed up on Channel 3’s news earlier this week: a lovely little puff piece about the maybe-candidacy of Scott Milne, second-generation head of Milne Travel and son of Marion Milne, an authentic political hero.
Which says nothing about the strengths or weaknesses of her son, as yet untested in state politics and actively pondering his acid test: a run for Governor. “As we first told you,” as Channel 3 is ever-quick to point out. Their scoops are rare and precious things indeed.
The station called WGOP by the late great Peter Freyne couldn’t resist following up on its scoop — and giving Milne some free publicity — by “covering” a singularly odd event: a visit by Milne to a diner in White River Junction. A visit attended by a WCAX camera and reporter Adam Sullivan, who managed to wangle an interview with the non-candidate at an empty table. As far as can be told, no other reporters were present.
How, I wonder, did this happen? Did Milne’s non-campaign organization arrange the diner meet-and-greet? Did they invite Channel 3 and only Channel 3? Was there collusion between Republican-friendly TV station and local businessman who does a ton of advertising in local media? (And is Channel 3’s go-to “expert” for stories on travel.)
Something smells, and it’s not the Friday Fish Fry at the Crossroads Cafe.
As for the alleged substance of this journalistic handjob, Milne slipped a cagey hint to Sullivan:
“I have a great idea that I want to do it, Adam,” Milne said.
Ooh, “Adam.” Way to be fake-friendly with the media, Scotty!
Sullivan and Milne then dipped into my suggested treasure trove of travel-related metaphor:
Milne is seriously considering a run for governor of Vermont. He likens the current state of affairs in the Green Mountain State to a sinking ship.
“These seem pretty good in Vermont right now, but somebody has got to keep an eye out for the icebergs and figuring out how we get around them,” Milne said.
Ah, Captain Milne, a reliable guide through the treacherous waters engulfing our Ship of State. He can get you to Fenway Park by bus; surely he can get Vermont to a prosperous future. Heed his warning: The buffet on the S.S. Shumlin might look tasty, but there’s salmonella lurking in the lobster salad.
Milne’s line about things seeming pretty good right now reminds me of then-Governor Douglas’ fervent warnings that the Legislature was driving Vermont off the cliff, if you don’t mind me switching travel-related metaphors in midstream. (Oops, I did it again.) The linked warning came in 2009, and we’ve been waiting for the Douglas-promised Doomsday ever since.
(At the same time, Republican Rep. Heidi Scheuermann echoed Douglas’ warnings of imminent catastrophe, in language almost identical to that of today’s VTGOP:
… the budget that was passed increased spending at a rate greater than inflation, raises taxes by over $26 million and leaves us with a $200 million hole the next two years.
So, five years ago we faced disaster any day now. Funny, it keeps receding just over the horizon. Scheuermann then bemoaned the “imbalance” of political power and predicted that Vermonters would punish the Dems in the 2010 election. Yeah, still waiting for that to happen. And the Republicans are still pushing this tired, failed meme of “restoring balance.”)
Oh dear, I seem to have left Scott Milne and Adam Sullivan sitting at a table. Where he was, ahem, mourning the partisan imbalance in Montpelier.
“If you believe that you need balance in Montpelier, that balance is the best way forward, there is really an easy way to do that and that is to change the governor,” Milne said.
Some things never change.
To sum up: non-candidate Scott Milne acts like a candidate in a highly prepackaged setting. WCAX just happens to be on hand to chronicle a few handshakes and a substance-free interview. It broadcasts the segment, giving Milne a nice chunk of free media. To quote The Church Lady, “Isn’t that special?”