Violent temper. Refusal to admit wrongdoing. Penchant for expressing every feeling as anger. Penchant for expressing anger through physical intimidation. Homophobia and transphobia. Impulsive, risky behaviour with no consideration of potential consequences. "Boys will be boys" brand excuses for egregious behaviour. Yup. Toronto Mayor Rob Ford sure is winning at Toxic Masculinity Bingo.
Both before and during the previous election, it was clear that Rob Ford was racist, homophobic, and had problems with substance abuse and honesty. Nevertheless he won the election. We, all of us who care about justice and democracy, need to ask ourselves why this happened.
As I stood in the Huffington Post newsroom on Wednesday, watching Rob Ford admit on live television to smoking crack cocaine, I thought about Ford's wife, Renata. Until about 10 years ago, I would have wondered "how on earth does a woman stay with a man like that?" I would have thought of her as weak for not leaving him -- a man who's been in numerous public "drunken stupors," a man who was charged with assault after police were called to their home, a man who confesses to smoking crack. No woman should stand for that, right? But I know better than that now. I was married to an alcoholic for 12 years, and I didn't leave.
Because stuffing your face is what you do when you're ashamed.
"It was really something," said former co-star David Spade, of Ford's reprisal of his marquee role from the '90s. "I only knew Rob as a nutty, coffee-table smashing, goofball. This new film goes much deeper, and I would say, darker."
Rob Ford... that is all.
To the endless delight of click-bait authors everywhere, Rob Ford is showing no signs of leaving the headlines anytime soon. The pundits have been smashing their keyboards in wild fury ever since, so what are some of the conclusions they've been drawing? The famous quip about scandals is that "it's not the crime, it's the cover up." But sometimes it's neither a crime nor a coverup, it's just that the politician is a horrible embarrassing moron that no one likes. But that's hard to say openly, let alone in an op-ed.
So for those salivating for a Toronto reset, I suggest a more modest brand refresh -- one where an asterisk is added to our otherwise great city. Here we can note our city's mind-numbing congestion, condo lined waterfront, failed Olympic bids, overpriced housing and political mismanagement. All this without clouding the overwhelmingly positive attributes this city has to offer.
Statistics on moms, a reminder to get the flu shot, raising readers, a new place to shop and a very brief crack at the Mayor is what I've got this wee...
People keep saying "Toronto deserves better." But there's more to it than that. Ford Nation deserves better. Forget your politics for one second. Forget left or right or suburban or urbanite. This guy shouldn't be your guy, no matter which side of the fence you fall off of during a drunken stupor. Ford Nation should want better than Rob Ford, because Ford Nation should be better than Rob Ford. If our leaders are supposed to be shining examples of the people they represent, surely Ford Nation can find someone else. Not just for Toronto, but for themselves.
Rob Ford has proven himself to be unpolished, undignified, inarticulate, petulant and impulsive. This displeases many people for obvious reasons, but it particularly disgusts politicians and reporters, who operate in a sphere where the opposite characteristics are considered emblematic of virtue. Yet for many voters, the more relevant questions when a judging a politician are: Is he a greedy bastard and has he tried to screw me over? So far, despite all the disastrous things that have happened, the answer to those questions as they pertain to Rob Ford remains no.
In his second speech, Rob Ford made one particularly impassioned comment which has truly cosmic importance: "I'd do anything, anything to change the past." Really? You're expending all that sincerity on how much you'd like to change the past? Is that something you're close to being able to do?
Pamela Wallin admitted to accounting mishaps, paid back her loot and then cried "lynching." Mayor Rob Ford's family and fans referred to his well-deserved scrutiny as "a lynching." It is nothing of the sort. They have no right to compare their media scrutiny or professional strife to African slavery, the Holocaust or any other systemic international human catastrophe. Words can wound.
Rob Ford isn't a mistake. We like to think Canada is a tolerant nation, but the mayor's pride and prejudice is an accurate reflection of much of the city he leads. We like to imagine we're nothing like our neighbours to the south, but Toronto has its red states and its blue states; it has its Michele Bachmann, Rick Santorum and Herman Cain wrapped up in one neat 330-pound package.