They don’t really mean the nonsense that, so often, trips off their tongues. They just libel can’t help themselves. Theirs is less an affliction than an occupational hazard. It comes with the territory upon which the politician must trod, oh so publicly, every day.
We shan’t soon forget this beauty, courtesy of former U.S. President George W. Bush, circa 2004:
“Our enemies are innovative and resourceful, and so are we. They never stop thinking about new ways to harm our country and our people, and neither do we.”
Nor can we let current U.S. President Barack Obama off the hook for this campaign trail blooper some years ago: “I’ve now been in 57 states – I think I have one left to go.”
There’s the late U.S. President Ronald Reagan on the environment: “Trees cause more pollution than automobiles do.”
There’s U.S. Congressman Joe Barton on wind energy:
“Wind is God’s way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it’s hotter to areas where it’s cooler. That’s what wind is. Wouldn’t it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down, which causes the temperature to go up?
There’s former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on being gay: “In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals, like in your country.”
There’s former U.S. Representative Todd Akin on pregnancy resulting from sexual assault: “It seems to me, first of all, from what I understand from doctors that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.”
There’s Canada’s former Minister of Public Safety on an opposition MP who criticized new government legislation designed to fight online pedophilia: “We are proposing measures to bring our laws into the 21st century and to provide the police with the lawful tools that they need. . .He can either stand with us or with the child pornographers.”
Now we witness Toronto Mayor (in name only) Rob Ford throw his hat into the arena with what is clearly a litigious attack on Toronto Star reporter Daniel Dale, who has returned fire with a libel notice.
Mr. Ford’s remark in an interview with Conrad Black on The Zoomer TV show earlier this month was, verbatim: “Daniel Dale in my backyard taking pictures. I have little kids. When a guy’s taking pictures of little kids, I don’t want to say the word, but you start thinking, you know, what’s this guy all about?”
To which Mr. Dale’s lawyers responded, “This is a vicious libel of Mr. Dale. In its plain and ordinary meaning, Rob Ford is calling Mr. Dale a pedophile. . .This letter shall constitute notice under section 5(1) of Ontario’s Libel and Slander Act. . .ZoomerMedia and Rob Ford should immediately retract the false and defamatory statements in their entirety, and apologize to Mr. Dale – publicly, abjectly, unreservedly and completely – if they wish to even begin to undo the harm caused by the broadcast of Mr. Ford’s outrageous statements.”
Yeah, good luck with that.
Methinks Mr. Ford, who has admitted to smoking crack cocaine and being outrageously drunk in public and, yet, remains technically in office, believes his skin in made of teflon. And maybe it is.
Maybe that is the secret of public office: Regularly say the the most ludicrous things you can imagine and, pretty soon, people become inured to your absurdity.
Conversely, when a smart, articulate guy says something just a wee bit silly, the remark stands out.
Here’s New Brunswick Liberal MLA Don Arseneault critiquing the new Tory drug plan for the province last week: “If a single mother or anybody in New Brunswick misses a payment – maybe because of being out of the country or being in the hospital or just not being able to make ends meet – the government is going to multiply that fine by the number of days and the person can be fined up to $5,200. . .Do you think that is right?”
To which Health Minister Ted Flemming replied, “Any person who is in need is not going to be paying under this plan. . .To suggest that New Brusnwickers are a bunch of people who are not going to p[ay their bills is an insult. . .and you ought to be ashamed of yourself.”
Careful, fellows. . .You are heading dangerously close to Rob Ford territory, where nonsense is a way of life.