Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Salvation of Rob Ford with conrad black

Rob Ford has been given the greatest megaphone of all and if he can rise to the occasion has many successful trips to the poles ahead of him.  He certainly has to lay of the sauce but that was blindingly obvious anyway and  doing just that will restore health and vigor and allow the voters to put his outbursts behind them.

In the meantime he is beautifully positioned to be a one man cheerleader team for the city of Toronto and by extension for southern Ontario.  A couple years of that and his reputation will be awesome.

Recall how a B actor named Ronald Reagan spent years crafting himself as a public speaker to shift his reputation before he did tackle political office.  This B actor has roads to go yet and I do not see him out.

Conrad Black: The salvation of Rob Ford

Conrad Black | 23/11/13 |

The Rob Ford controversy is following a traditional pattern, but is now set to produce some surprises. It seemed to begin as the mayor’s critics, and not everyone has to like his full-figured, Archie Bunker-style, leaped with joy at suggestions that the mayor might be a crack cocaine-user (like, on an occasional basis, a very large number of other people). Then, as happens when a mob composed of the ideological left and the vast mass of those who enjoy (no matter how tawdry or parochial the details) watching the mighty fall begin to see a catastrophic career failure in progress, the frenzy took hold. Everything is then invoked as proof of ignobility, unfitness for a place of public trust, and moral turpitude.

Thus, I heard on one radio station while in my car, a commentator virtually raving about “fiscal irresponsibility.” I assumed that some new enormity had been unearthed, that the mayor was hurling money out of the windows, presumably in the direction of cronies. Eventually, it turned out to be a matter of asking one of his aides to do a few innocuous personal favours for him. This is what go-fors do, in the public and private sector, and what would be irresponsible, fiscally and otherwise, would be the holder of a high office having to do everything, no matter how mundane, himself. To judge from reports, this mayor doesn’t even avail himself of a chauffeur, which in my observations is a first for a Toronto mayor going back to Allan Lamport. Was it fiscally irresponsible for John Sewell or David Miller to have a chauffeur? I would have thought not, though they had other shortcomings.

There were endless gratuitous reflections on every aspect of the mayor’s taste, and the usual outpourings of alarm that Rob Ford was a negative or even a degrading influence on the young people of Toronto. It is not the role of the mayor of Toronto to be a pied piper of the young toward a virtuous life, instead, he ought to ensure public security and sanitation and zone the city and assist in improving public transit. Not since New York’s Fiorello H. La Guardia read the comic pages over the radio to the children of that city during a newspaper strike has there been such a connection between the chief occupant of city hall and the contentment, not to say mental hygiene, of the mayor’s voters’ children.

In such cases, the rules and practices are bent or ignored to add to the momentum of the mighty push to evict the targeted individual from his position. Thus did the chief of Toronto’s generally very good police force announce that he could not comment on the evidence of the mayor’s possible wrongdoing, but that the reflections of the rabidly hostile and muck-inventing, raking and throwing Toronto Star were accurate and he, the chief, Bill Blair, was “as a citizen, disappointed in the mayor.” He is paid and sworn to uphold public security. “As a citizen,” in a press conference he called as chief of police, he can keep such reflections to himself. Nor should the opinions or fabrications of the Toronto Star and its febrile and compulsively abrasive editor and publisher be given the imprimatur of the police department, as if the chief were the Prince of Wales selling the fact that he bought his handkerchiefs at Harrods.

Nothing has come to light that disqualifies him from fulfilling the mandate the voters gave him, and I do not believe that the City Council has any legal capacity to redefine his powers

And it is not clear by what perversion of justice a judge is selectively making scraps of “evidence” public, while redacted chunks of a 500-page police report that does not seem to contain anything that justifies a charge, are receiving attention like film of death camps at the Nuremberg Trials. We seem to have reached the turning: those who should not have become so vocal do not seem able to put up or shut up, and the mayor, who is not, for many people, a style-setter, appears to be competent to continue in the task which he was elected to perform. Those who disapprove of him, but are wary of the heavy numbers of his supporters, take refuge in the suggestion that he take a break to deal with his “substance” or addiction “issues.” The capable and normally politically astute Employment minister, Jason Kenney, an Alberta MP who has no discernible dog in this hunt, suggested the mayor “step aside.”

I don’t see why he should. He should be more careful, including in the avoidance of inflammatory malapropisms. But nothing has come to light that disqualifies him from fulfilling the mandate his electors gave him, and I do not believe that the City Council has any legal capacity to redefine the powers of the mayor, unless the provincial legislature assigns the authority over municipal government to the Toronto Star, shelter for rabid editorial writers. No sane person could imagine that the City Council is a teeming hotbed of Tocquevillian champions of disinterested local government, and no one has conferred any power of usurpation of legally attributed powers on those who fester in the council.

What the more learned political commentators note, (such as Senator Mike Duffy in his blog), is that the entire political community is wary of Ford Nation, that the Greater Toronto Area is picking up a number of federal constituencies upon the next expansion of the House of Commons to 338 legislators, and that Toronto’s contiguous built-up area, almost from Niagara Falls to Oshawa, will have nearly 70 of them. About half of those are largely inhabited by people who are not scandalized by obesity, occasional cocaine use, occasional drunkenness, or the odd whirl at the wheel of a car when a breathalyzer, if applied, could be problematical. They are, however, scandalized by rank hypocrisy from mouthy journalists and gimcrack municipal politicians, and by the confected and inflated sanctimony of prigs and twits.

The greatest wound democratic government has suffered in 50 years was self-inflicted, and it was the popularization, for a time the glorification, of the criminalization of policy differences in the infamous Watergate affair. Not as dangerous, because it does not involve so great an office as the presidency of the United States, but just as reprehensible, is the mighty, heaving effort in the Ford case to criminalize stylistic differences. Such concerns are one of the reasons we have elections, and cannot be plausibly invoked to gut elections of their meaning. At the time of the last election, I agreed with most of the positions Rob Ford espoused, but was disconcerted by his inelegantly phrased defence of a colleague, that he “has other fish to fry than feathering his own nest.” When I was asked about the mayor ten days ago by the world’s most famous mayor (and Britain’s most popular politician), London’s Mayor Boris Johnson, I defended Mayor Ford, while mentioning that comment of his, and Boris responded that he must have been referring to the well-known feathered Australian porcupine fish.

Perhaps. But Mayor Ford’s detractors should realize that instead of hounding him from office, they have probably, by their bestial self-righteous excess and implicit mockery of a large echelon of the population that identifies with the mayor, made him more popular than ever. They have mocked human foibles a great many voters share, without shame, if not proudly. And they have made Rob Ford the most famous Canadian in the world. I found on my recent trip that Australians and Britons found Rob Ford a refreshing change from their general impression of Canadians as monochromatic aspirant Dudley Do-Rights. The law of unintended consequences asserts itself again, and it will be interesting to see whom it strikes.

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