Despite what you may think of him, you gotta sympathize with Mayor Rob Ford being ambushed at 8 a.m. by the CBC's Mary Walsh, in her other persona as Marg Delahunty, Warrior Princess in a Viking outfit.
Granted Ford's sense of humour is about as developed as a Bushman's understanding of international finance, but the spectacle of Mary Walsh, clad in a red Vikings outfit, brandishing a microphone and charging from car, yelling, "We've got you Rob Ford, we got you!" (Toronto Star's report) is enough to make even Clint Eastwood quake. A runaway dreadnaught, if there is such a thing.
This wasn't a mainstream reporter sidling up the mayor with a cheeky question. Rather, it was Walsh's version of humour for the CBC, designed to provoke laughs from her audience and to intimidate and fluster the target of her ambush.
That's what Mary Walsh does. And she does it with bravado, panache, and fearless determination. Less timid souls than Ford have been, er, well, intimidated.
And while Ford's a big guy who doesn't miss many meals, we are given to understand that he's had a number of threats from citizens who disapprove of his efforts to bring responsible spending back to the city.
Some people bear up well when threatened, others not so well.
Apparently our mayor belongs to the latter category. And who can fault him? His response to Mary Walsh's frontal attack (shown on CBC TV Tuesday night), was to retreat into his house, and phone 911 for police protection.
Eventually then police arrived, but alas Mary and her CBC conspirators (if one dare call cameramen that) had departed.
Mayor Ford is indignant about Walsh and cohorts "crossing the line" and besieging his home. Almost as an afterthought, he notes that his five-year-old daughter was frightened when Walsh rushed at them, microphone at the ready.
Can't blame the kid for that. At her most benign, Mary Walsh can be intimidating.
Maybe citing the kid's fear is a way for Mayor Ford to justify his own terror at being confronted by a formidable lady in red.
(Remember, when gangster John Dillinger was shot down by the FBI and cops leaving a Chicago movie theater in 1934, there was a mysterious "lady in red" at his side, which was the pre-arranged tip-off that her date was Dillinger himself. Personally, I doubt if Dillinger's "lady in red" was the Warrior Princess. She'd have been too young at the time -- maybe hadn't even been born. But these days, one never knows).
A CBC spokesman tried to explain to the Toronto Star that the ambush was for a "lighthearted moment" on TV -- part of the CBC's tradition of trying to embarrass politicians into unguarded reactions.
Fair game for the CBC perhaps, which has its own ethical standards, none of which involve telling the public how it spends taxpayers' money, some of which is used to pay Mary Walsh for harassing Mayor Ford in the name of humour.
Frankly, I have difficult shedding anything but crocodile tears for Mayor Ford. He's a politician -- and Mary Walsh is one of the hazards high-profile politicians in this country must endure.
But she shouldn't go around scaring five-year-old kids, even those who belong to the mayor. Understandable if little Stephanie now has nightmares about a lady in red.