I don’t know much about politics, but I recognize an injustice when I see one. The Mayor is being criticized for behaving like an alcoholic, as if incoherent speech and erratic behavior is new to Toronto City Council. Anyone remember the plastic bag or shark fin soup bans last year? Sometimes the whole Council acts intoxicated.
Allow me to slur on behalf of our misjudged Mayor: Ford didn’t promise much to get elected and didn’t deliver much once in office. Yet his supporters stand behind him because he was elected to do one thing and one thing only – to be Rob Ford. Some people, somewhere, obviously wanted a Mayor with a bad attendance record, a short attention span, a cramped vocabulary, a lust for fried food, a reality show family, and a taste for grain alcohol.
So, he’s right to fight when people try to remove him from office. He was elected to ignore the rules of public life. He’s expected to sabotage government. To depose him for the very behavior that got him elected would be undemocratic. He has been given a mandate, even if no one can say what it is.
The people who wanted a drunk mayor have spoken, and they deserve to be heard. Smarty pants media types can say whatever they want, but the election of Ford marked a turning point in the City’s history. Toronto the Good elected its very first bad boy mayor. Mel Lastman thought he was a bad boy, with late life confessions about a baby mama and middle-aged love children, but he wasn’t even close to matching the outrage inspired daily by the raging, wheezing, knee slapping, throw down, sweaty, suit-straining, quaffmeister Ford.
Critics of the mayor judge him as if he’s failed to meet the standard of conduct required for the office. They’re mistaken. They’re judging him by the standard of sober, smooth talking, diligent mayors of bygone days.
Ford has set a new standard. This isn’t apparent yet, but it will become obvious as more politicians rise to meet it. Credit Councillor Bailao for trying, but one DUI conviction isn’t enough. It takes consistent, everyday effort to drink your way into the headlines and turn every moment of media contact into a three-ring circus.
To paraphrase an old joke, it’s time to stop telling Ford he suffers from “problem drinking.” In the dawning Age of Ford, it will be called, “solution drinking.”
That’s too true to be funny. When you think about how a politician makes a living, it’s better to be drunk than sober. Inebriation provides plausible deniability when confronted by critics or judges. Could there be a more perfect prevarication than, “I don’t remember?” Ford used it in denial of his 1999 Florida arrest and his flameout with a Mississauga couple at a sporting event a few years ago. If it weren’t for photographic evidence, written reports, and eye-witnesses, he was completely believable.
Memory loss, a symptom of chronic alcoholics, is an instant alibi for almost any non-criminal act. How many times did Ford say, “I don’t remember,” when he took the stand during his conflict of interest hearing last year? I lost count. He used it like Muhamad Ali used rope-a-dope when he was overmatched (an analogy that becomes even more strained when you imagine Clayton Ruby as George Foreman).
He may well be using it right now. If it can ever be proved that he did actually grab Sarah Thomson’s ass (pity the forensic team!), and that he really was blottoed at the Garrison Ball, he can claim that his false denials were just memory lapses, not intentional lies. When called to account, there won’t be any mea culpas required. He’ll merely state the obvious: “I shouldn’t be expected to recall my condition on the nights in question… because I was hammered.”
Beneath all the sanctimony from media and Council lefties there lies the real charge against Ford. They’re trying to persuade the public that alcohol renders him ineffective. Yet all the evidence suggests that it makes him MORE effective, or more effective than his opponents, at least. After all, he defeated them all in a general election and then dodged every attempt to topple him. When they accuse him of being drunk all this time, what are they saying about their own political skills?
George Smitherman, Rocco Rossi, or Joe Pantalone might actually have been electable if they’d downed a couple of bourbon shots before debating Ford. Sarah Thomson, who rocked a whopping 0.232% of the vote, might have doubled her popularity with a few cocktails, which would round up to 1% if you eliminate three decimal places. If Ford’s edge came from alcohol, these guys should have levelled the playing field. A hangover is a small price to pay.
When the advantages of drinking over thinking are accepted at City hall, other changes are bound to follow. Expect to see breathalysers attached to microphones on Council chamber desks. Any councillors blowing under the limit will be cut off, their votes cancelled. Random urine tests will ensure their drunkenness during regular office hours and committee meetings.
It’s about time Ford got some credit for opening up politics in this way. After all, if he drinks as much as he’s rumoured to, there can’t be more than a small nugget of grey matter still pulsing in his skull. This may make him unfit to operate a motor vehicle in this province, but apparently, he can win elections, host a radio show, coach a football team, and run Canada’s biggest city with the few brain cells he has left. Being mayor must be so easy that anyone can do it. The number of registered candidates in 2014 might be in the 1000’s thanks to the example set by our current Mayor.
Even my jack russell terrier, though not a drinker, could probably do the job. Like Ford, he has difficulty expressing himself in words, can’t resist KFC, buries evidence of past misdeeds, and is single-minded in pursuit of objectives (and tennis balls). With instincts like these, maybe he could out-Ford Ford and thwart his re-election.
How much more do I have to drink before my dog starts to look like a serious contender in 2014? Seriously, bottoms up, Toronto!