All the Mayor’s Horses
Patience, unlike smoking crack, is a virtue.
Months ago (months? it seems like years with all the other scandals going on), Gawker broke the “news” that Toronto Mayor Rob Ford was caught on video smoking crack. I use the scare quotes because, despite a kickstarter, err, crackstarter campaign to purchase the video, it could never be located.
The Toronto Star, through it all, stuck with Gawker, claiming that they had seen the video and, yes, that was Toronto’s larger-than-life mayor attached to the business end of a crack pipe.
Without any actual evidence, the Toronto Star was derided for sticking by the story. People were right to be skeptical. The Star has never been a friend of Ford. The left-leaning paper never supported the mayor, consistently jumping on any story it could to discredit Mr. Ford. Whether the Mayor was breaking the law by talking on his cell while driving, whether he was flipping at bird to fellow citizens, whether he was drunkenly groping former rivals or even commandeering public resources for the high school football team he coached, we could rely on the Star to chronicle every major or minor transgression. Maybe it was a grudge, maybe it was journalistic integrity or maybe it was just obstinance.
But maybe obstinance, unlike smoking crack, is a virtue.
Strange things have happened within Mr. Ford’s inner circle. A friend and occasional driver of Mr. Ford, Sandro Lisi, was arrested on drug charges. National Post’s Adrian Humphreys and Joseph Bean outline the significance of the connection between Mr. Ford and Mr. Lisi:
As the mayor’s senior staff variously quit or were fired in the early days of the scandal, Lisi quickly emerged as a central player in the mayor’s personal life. A suspected drug trafficker with underworld ties, who has convictions for threatening death, assault and harassment, Lisi is now free on bail as the city braces for the historic resolution of this episode, first described by the mayor himself as “ridiculous.”
In 44 days, Ford spoke with Lisi 349 times, according to police.
While Mr. Ford maintained close contact with Lisi throughout alleged attempts to resolve the video problem, he severed his ties with some who advocated a different approach. On May 23, Mark Towhey, the mayor’s chief-of-staff was fired and escorted out of city hall. A source said Mr. Towhey lost his job because he suggested to the mayor he seek help for a substance-abuse problem.
Mr. Ford calls Mr. Lisi a “good guy”.
Mr. Lisi was arrested a month ago, and during the investigation, the police learned something; there is a crack video. The Toronto police have confirmed that they have video evidence of the mayor smoking crack, vindicating Gawker and the Toronto.
Patience, unlike smoking crack… well, you know.
Our story doesn’t end here; it couldn’t. To the nation’s schadenfreudian delight, the mayor won’t resign, nor will he take a lawyer’s advice and Just. Shut. Up. From the beginning, Ford has maintained innocence (even as he has acknowledged that he has smoked weed “a lot“), but his story has adapted to fit each new revelation.
When Mr. Lisi was
cracking heads politely inquiring about the alleged video with his drug dealing cohorts, Mr. Ford was adamantly denying any such video. Later, as the story picked up steam, he would say that he couldn’t comment on a video that he has not seen that may not even exist. As time passes, he suggests that he can’t remember every time he has been photographed or videoed. In general, that’s a valid response by a politician, but how many politicians wouldn’t remember being in photos and videos with criminals and drug dealers while smoking crack?
That’s a question that doesn’t really need an answer.
Perhaps the most interesting defense given was that from “Ian”. I’m not using scare quotes for the sake of impartiality here. No, I’m using scare quotes because it is believed that “Ian”, who called into AM640 in Toronto, is believed to be a drunk Rob Ford:
It should be clear by now that Mr. Ford’s political career is all but over. The police have not charged him with anything, and it’s possible that they won’t. There’s a video of him, allegedly, smoking crack, but so far no other accusations or evidence of criminal activity. Though he may escape prosecution and maintain a tenuous hold of his mayoralty, there is little chance that this polarizing figure could win another election. Even the Toronto Sun, a right-leaning paper that has generally supported Mr. Ford, has turned its back on the mayor. He’s losing friends.
Mr. Ford is a thoroughly unlikable figure, and, for his detractors, these stories are just too delicious not to savour. The man is openly hostile to the media and to the citizens of Toronto. He has lied and he has used his office for personal gain. Further, he’s a bit of a hypocrite on the issue at hand; years ago, he opposed a crack addiction program. He is the personification of a left-winger’s caricature of a conservative.
Mr. Ford is also a thoroughly tragic figure. Yes, he’s had many successes in his life, and, yes, his current suffering derives from nothing but his own impulses. However, the Schadenford is unseemly. We know that Mr. Ford has had many many many many many issues with alcohol. We know he has used “a lot” of marijuana. And now, it seems, he smokes crack. These are acts of self destruction, not merely fodder for jokes.
The politician deserves our scorn, but the man deserves our sympathy, for he is a pathetic being. No joy should be taken from a man’s personal downfall. No one should be gleeful that crack or weed or alcohol has taken such a toll on this man. Mr. Ford is still a person – a deeply flawed, obnoxious, aggravating person, but a person, nonetheless. Toronto will be better off when he is out of office, and we should all welcome his eventual departure, but we shouldn’t cheer his personal downfall.
Sympathy, unlike smoking crack, is a virtue.