“I’m the best mayor this city (Toronto) has ever had…” – Rob Ford
Yep, it’s true. Rob Ford said that after registering as a mayoral candidate (the first to register) on Jan. 2, 2014 for the upcoming November municipal elections.
Mr. Ford is an interesting character. There’s no doubt he has attracted more attention to the city of Toronto than all previous mayors combined. Now of course the attention has not all been very good however there is a saying that any press is good press.
I am starting to wonder if Mr. Ford is some sort of political savant. It seems in most areas of his life (those that are public) he has stumbled, tripped and generally screwed up his way along. Somehow though when it comes to politics he seems indestructible.
“Did you smoke crack?”
And the political life of Mr. Ford continues, perhaps even stronger than before.
There are police interviews, eye-witnesses, video tapes, his own personal confession and yet charges will likely never be laid. It is as if you have to be walking down the streets of Toronto with a crack pipe in your mouth asking a local police officer for a light before a charge could possibly get laid.
When all of these things are brought to Mr. Ford’s attention he simply states “Look – you don’t have to like me. You don’t even have to vote for me. Just look at my record and decide for yourself.”
Therein lies the political brilliance of this guy. He does not quit. He does not bend. He simply screws up, falls down, gets up, and moves on (constantly). He really does not care even a tiny little bit whether people do not like him. Ironically the more he falls down the more opportunities people have of seeing him get back up and this begins to build a kind of grudging respect, the kind of respect a boxer gets after his fifth time on the mat in two rounds. You want to say “shit man stay down” but another part of you is kind of starting to appreciate the stubborn doggedness of the guy.
Every other political figure in the world, when confronted with damning, concrete evidence of public drunkenness and drug use, would have said – “well – I have no choice, the gig is up, all I can do now is resign with what dignity I have left and move on”. Ford, however, says “Screw dignity. They legally can’t force me out so I’m staying. So what if I got drunk…nothing illegal there. So what if I smoked crack…I was never charged…I’m just going to keep mayoring along…I’ll do it alone if necessary.”
The rest of the world looks on in perplexed shock. “Why is he still here? A normal person would have quit in shame and embarrassment.”
But you see Mr. Ford is not a normal person – if he has any capacity for shame or embarrassment it has yet to show itself. Any mayor who can publicly talk about going home and getting a nice “hot buffet” from the wife so-to-speak is a unique force to be reckoned with unlike any we have ever seen before.
Then there is the pesky reality of his political record. Like it or not Ford has brought enormous change to the city of Toronto. He has managed to see a bloated and excessive budget cut enormously and hold the line on inappropriate spending and taxes etc.
It’s kind of annoying to quite a lot of people. I mean if he were a crack smoking, hard drinking, lewd, clown of a mayor who ran the city into the ground it might be easier to force him out of office – instead people have to argue against him not so much based on his record but based on his appearance and attitude.
“Do we want such a man representing the city of Toronto to the world?” they ask.
A long time ago a naive political candidate for prime minister, Kim Campbell, asked the same question about rival Jean Chretien (not so unlike Rob Ford in political tactics really). She asked the question in the form of a terribly unflattering ad that slowly zoomed uncomfortably close to Chretien’s face, particularly the crooked side of his mouth as if to say “do we want this foul, street-fighting, ugly guy from backwoods Shawinigan, Quebec representing us on the world stage?”
In response Chretien and his team told the story of his childhood hearing loss that permanently crooked his mouth; they spoke of the regular kid from Shawinigan who had an opportunity and was going to fight for it…and you know what – he won.
It is happening with Mr. Ford now. In asking such a question the political savant in Ford rears up in all his brilliance and says “See!! I told you! Elitists. The wealthy, good looking, liberal elites of Toronto are threatened by regular, screw-up working Joes like you and me. Fat old slobs like you and me who love a good beer (or two or three), a big burger with extra bacon and a hard days work because that’s the only way you and I survive cuz we don’t have mom and dad’s inheritance and privilege and high cost education etc.”
After this a big part of the city population wakes up and says – “shit you know what? He’s right. Those tax and spend elitists have been in charge long enough. It’s time to put a regular, hard working asshole like me in office and clean things up a bit.”
This is why, at the end of the day, I think Mr. Ford is going to win the next municipal election for mayor of Toronto. He may be a foul-mouthed, drunken, lewd, occasional drug taking, over-weight bull in the china shop that is Toronto but he really doesn’t care about any of that. He’ll run the entire city all by himself if no one will work with him.
He says to Toronto – “yep…this is who I am. Elect me and this is what you’ll get…but at least you know what you’re getting.”