I now officially feel sorry for Rob Ford.
Oh, I’m not saying that he should stay on as mayor of Toronto. I am in no way supporting this morbidly obese, alcoholic, drug sampling, gansta-friendly mayor of North America’s fourth largest (and most image obsessed) city. Oh, no, he’s gotta go before his already super strained heart finally goes ka-blooey.
But after the release of the latest Ford shaming video (and by latest, I mean Thursday’s; there could be a new one by the time I finish this sentence), Rob Ford has passed from civic embarrassment to disgrace to figure of pity. If Ford were still a football player, his opponents would have been flagged for piling on.
I’m sure by now you’ve seen the drunken rant video, for which the Toronto Star paid an unnamed source $5,000. Ford, looking like a manatee on a bender, is seen going on a rant worthy of a World Wrestling Entertainment heel, only with a lot more F-bombs. He talks about killing people, and how he’s a badass, etc., all in a very cartoonish way.
So, what does the release of this video add to the ongoing Rob Ford/crack/police investigation file? Nothing. Absolutely nothing.
You see, it has no context. Who was he talking about? Where was the video taken? Who took the video? It’s so cartoonish, so over the top, Ford could have said he was riffing on bad guy wrestlers doing promotion, and I would have believed it. Instead, the big dope just said he was “extremely, extremely inebriated”. Just like he was when he tried crack. That seems to be Ford’s excuse for everything — he was drunk out of his head. I’d like to hear a drunk driver use that as an excuse in a trial: “Don’t blame me for running into that busload of nuns, your honor … I was very, very, very drunk.”
This is why I feel a bit sorry for Rob Ford. He’s not the first drunk to get elected to public office. Right here in Alberta, we had a major drunk as premier for many, many years (I will refrain from naming him; I don’t like to speak ill of the dead), who pretty much got away with being publicly drunk because the media liked/were afraid of him. That premier was lucky enough to rule when portable cell phones with cameras were the stuff of Dick Tracy comics, and not reality. Rob Ford, however, lives in an age when every transgression is captured on video. The poor slob.
In an odd way, I can see the release of the new Ford video might actually help him keep his job. I don’t live in Toronto, so my assumptions may be way off base, but I get the impression that the elite of Toronto (and that includes the media) hates Rob Ford. They hate the fact that while Calgary has a cool Muslim mayor, and Edmonton has a mayor who is just 34, and Vancouver has a mayor (right) who looks like he just came from a GQ photo shoot (OK, the Canadian GQ, if there were such a thing), while Toronto — super cool, super hip, super livable, super arrogant and self-conscious at the same time — has a 350 pound drunken vulgarian as mayor. It offends the sensibilities that such a clown would be in charge of such a great city. I mean, both John Stewart AND Stephen Colbert are joking about Toronto. While they secretly love the publicity, the shame is almost too much to bear. So Rob Ford has got to go, and the media will hound him until he goes.
The Star video may be a tipping point of the mayor — in either direction. It may be the one that gets so many people enraged that he has to go, or it could be the one that gets him enough sympathy that he could stay on. The Toronto media is in full attack dog mode right now, and there are certainly going to be a lot of voters who think the media should just lay off the guy and let him do his job.
He should quit, of course, if not for the good of the city’s reputation, then for his own health. I hope he does, because he really looks like a guy about five minutes away from, as Fred Sanford used to say on Sanford and Sons, ‘the big one’.