Hog Town’s Ford farce on world tour

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The world, it seems, cannot get enough of Toronto’s very own booze-guzzling, crack-smoking Falstaff. And he of coarse demeanor and rotund comportment is more than happy to oblige his growing audience.

“Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine,” Rob Ford admitted on Tuesday. “There have been times when I’ve been in a drunken stupor. That’s why I want to see the tape.

I want everyone in the city to see this tape. I don’t even recall there being a tape or video. I want to see the state that I was in.”

So, then, he was lying in May when he declared: “I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict.” Not exactly, hizzonner said this week: “I wasn’t lying. You didn’t ask the correct questions.”

On the broadest interpretation of this point, if on no other, Mr. Ford is right. We in the media rarely ask the correct questions. If we did, then one question we might want to ask now is: Why is Hog Town’s chief magistrate enjoying a bump in this personal approval rating among municipal voters just as his confession to truly bad behaviour is transforming him into an international media darling?

To restate the question: Have we all lost our minds?

Chris Batemen, a staff writer at blogTO, has compiled a compelling assortment of  news items about the fine fellow from the world’s press. From his research, we know that Esquire has expressed an interest in Mr. Ford’s manners while under the influence of substances, illegal or otherwise.

“As it turns out, the mayor may have been the very model crack house guest, Charles P. Pierce blogged. Referencing original reporting by The Toronto Star, Mr. Pierce links directly to a November 5 story which observed, among other things, “The City of Toronto has refused to say whether Mayor Rob Ford paid utility bills for the Etobicoke crack house where he was photographed with three alleged gang members.

But a city official has confirmed that on January 7, Chris Fickel, one of Ford’s special assistants, called the city’s water department on behalf of resident Fabio Basso regarding a sewage issue at 15 Windsor Rd., said Toronto Water manager Lou Di Gironimo. . .The bungalow. . .is home to the Basso family, including Ford’s old friend Fabio Basso and his sister, convicted cocaine trafficker Elena Basso, who also, according to the police document, has a conviction for prostitution.”

Meanwhile, Stephen Marche wrote on the opinion pages of The New York Times, “The old clichés are beginning to fall away from the city where I live. What has happened to Toronto the Good? Where is ‘New York run by the Swiss’? Mayor Rob Ford’s crack smoking. . .is only the most extreme example of his recent illicit adventures. Perhaps the most telling anecdote from a police file that surfaced late last week involves Mr. Ford’s heading into the woods with his buddy Sandro Lisi, currently out on bail after being charged with extortion, and leaving the pathway strewn with bags of empty vodka bottles. His mayoralty has been an experiment in what would happen if you had a feral 16-year-old boy for mayor.”

Then there’s Rolling Stone’s Tim Dickinson, who has helpfully added Mr. Ford’s name to the list of the magazine’s Top Five Political Excuses of All Time. He joins former South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford, former New York Congressman Anthony Wiener, former mayor of Washington, D.C., Marion Barry, and former Idaho Senator Larry Craig.

Yes, yes, it’s all so very amusing. One wonders what Mr. Ford plans for a second act. A blood-letting for Heroine addicts at Nathan Phillips Square? It’s not as if he’s going anywhere, anytime soon. He loves the limelight. Indeed, in his fevered mind, his personal disgrace actually becomes him. And, absurdly, Toronto possesses no mechanism for booting him from office.

There is, of course, another audience who is not as rapt about the boy: It’s comprised of those who, like me, were born in the downtown and raised there. We can’t wait for City Hall to get back to work before the Gardiner Expressway finally crumbles along with Mr. Ford’s credibility.

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