Thursday, November 7, 2013

Rob Ford and the Bravery of Cowards

A pair of Toronto Sun columnists strike a pose with Rob Ford.
Here's how traditional big game hunting works: a hunter is led to a tree stand by a guide, or, in some locales, is placed on top of an elephant. Then the beaters or dogs do their work, and the large and dangerous quarry is driven into the open. Now the hunter, from a safe location and with a clear field of view, unleashes a volley of shots that brings the beast down. Our hunter then clambers down from his perch and, after he's gotten the all-clear from his guide that the toothy victim is well and truly dead, poses triumphantly beside his fallen prey. Photographs are taken, and when the great white hunter gets back to civilization the pictures go up on a wall so that the hunter's friends can say, "Gosh, that must have been dangerous." And the hunter can modestly reply, "Yes, it was a bit hairy, but I got off a good shot." And that's what the bravery of cowards looks and sounds like.

That kind of spineless bravado has been on full display here in Toronto in the aftermath of Mayor Rob Ford's Hindenburg-like crash and burn. Right-wing Toronto city councillors such as Frances Nunziata, George Mammoliti, Denzil Minnan-Wong and Norm Kelly, all of whom were enthusiastic, even fanatical, supporters of Ford have finally found that the time is ripe to declare that the Mayor should step aside, enter rehab, and generally get the hell out of Dodge. How brave of them to finally take a moral stand after Ford has done everything possible to besmirch his reputation except kebab some puppies and eat them with kitten sauce. But the councillors aren't the only ones who've made some purchases at Backbones "R" Us. A flock of media people, chiefly from the Toronto Sun and talk radio stations, have also seen the light and are calling for Ford to resign or take a leave of absence. What's so appallingly cowardly about this is that they've all waited until Ford put himself in an utterly indefensible position with his admission of smoking crack. Once Ford stumbled into the open with that confession, he made himself such a soft, easy target there was no way his former allies couldn't take a shot at him. The rightist politicians and media people who are now stroking their metaphorical beards and passing judgment on Ford were purblind when it came to Ford's behavior prior to this past summer's crack video revelation by the Toronto Star.

There have always been compelling reasons to demand Rob Ford's ouster from office. Before becoming mayor he was mostly famous for being a dim-witted city councilor with a fetish for obsessing over the nickel and dime aspects of the city's budget. And of course there was his criminal record. Rob has been pinched for DUI, domestic assault, drug possession and public drunkenness. Once he became mayor the public boozing continued, but what might have been worse, at least from a right-wing point of view, was that he became chief conductor on the city hall "gravy train" he railed against during the election campaign. How so? Thanks to the Toronto Star it was revealed last year that Ford was spending a big chunk of his working hours on his pet high school football team. And now we know he was also gadding about in public parks drinking vodka and taking delivery of mystery packages from Alessandro "I Live In My Mother's Basement" Lisi. In sum, Rob was not doing his job, and if any other city employee had been AWOL like this they would have been fired. Happily for Ford, his Myrmidons in the council chamber and the press gallery found all kinds of fatuous excuses for Rob--he's a man of the people; he's saving the taxpayers' money; he's only human; he's saving the taxpayers' money; he's helping at-risk youth; he's saving taxpayers' money; and so on and so on.

I firmly believe that the rightists in politics and the media who previously supported Ford were perfectly aware that he was nothing more than a sentient cyst. But that's the state of right-wing thinking these days: hitch your political wagon to any beast as long as it's willing to savage social services and claw back taxes. If the people who've been cheering on Ford since he became mayor had had any scruples, the least bit of political bravery, they would have come down hard on him months or years ago. But no. Only when Rob became a naked, shivering, stationary target did they emerge from hiding to massacre him. And I don't think they'll be acknowledging that the beaters at the Toronto Star did all the dirty and dangerous work leading up to the "kill."

An afterthought: it's interesting that what seems to have been the final straw for Ford's backers is that he admitted smoking crack. His semi-regular displays of public drunkenness were passed over or laughed off by the same people. It would seem that when a politician overdoses on the middle-class drug of choice--alcohol--they're given a pass, but when they use crack...well, that's the drug those people use. Yes, there's a faint, very faint, whiff of racism attached to the reaction to this scandal.


Unknown said...

Smoking whatever and getting drunk - who cares? Busting unions and gutting services for the vulnerable, now those are CRIMES... and that's what the capitalists hired him for.

Cary Watson said...

The drugs and booze are turning into a smokescreen for all his other misdeeds. It's setting up for a quick stint in rehab and then all is forgiven and get back to kicking the crap out of unions and the poor, and hurry up with passing governance of the city over to developers.