I’ve resisted adding to the flood of words about Rob Ford. But no more. Here are six thoughts.
First, this is sad. Ford, as a human being, is a mess and any compassionate person should feel empathy watching him struggle. Especially because he seems to have no one in his life to say ‘I care about you, and you have to stop this.’
Second, Ford’s hypocrisy is appalling. A month ago, a photo emerged of a Toronto employee with his head on his desk, apparently asleep. Ford wanted the employee and his manager fired if he was sleeping. Not suspended, or disciplined. Fired.
But he uses illegal drugs and shows up at the workplace staggering drunk and violent, yet feels it is fine to keep his job. Ford supports tough-on-crime policies and harsh penalties for drug use - but not for himself. It is entitlement and ignorance gone mad.
Third, the jokes about Ford and the obsession with crack suggest a certain collective eagerness to forget that his problem is alcohol. Yes, crack is a reckless drug to use, and being in a drunken stupour is not a great defence.
But the evidence suggests Ford’s problem is alcohol.
Maybe we are in collective denial. In B.C., in the 12 months ending Sept. 30, we spent $986 per adult on alcohol, at the LDB price. That’s about 2.5 litres a week per adult of alcohol of all kinds. Many people aren’t drinking at all, of course, which means others are drinking much more.
Fourth, the political posturing was ugly. People in every walk of life struggle with substance abuse, addiction and self-destructive behaviour. It’s patently stupid to claim people of any political stripe have a monopoly on these problems.
Fifth, this has not been, overall, a great time for the media. The Toronto Star has done fine and difficult work on the story. The Globe and Mail as well.
But there has been so much rubbish written, from pieces arguing that this is what happens when you give people who live in suburbs the right to vote to columns suggesting the public doesn’t really need to know more about Rob Ford’s problems.
And sixth, this has been a worse time for political service and public life. Rob Ford is reckless, irresponsible and a liar. He has no sense of accountability, or honesty. Yet he is the mayor.
What are young people supposed to conclude from this ugly spectacle? They would be kicked out of their high schools in a flash for much smaller offences, but Ford is above such accountability, and still has his defenders.
The rules only apply to people outside the club.
Which is ironic, given that Rob Ford has always portrayed himself as one of those outsiders. Until he needed to claim the privileges of power.