What makes this a good thing for America, and really, the rest of the world, is that once conservatives are fully engulfed in the bubble of right-wing ideology, something remarkable happens: They forget. They forget they’re in a bubble. They forget to hide their hatred of blacks. They forget to hide their disgust for strong, independent women. They forget to pretend they’re against abortion when really they want women to suffer for having sex. Basically, they forget to act like decent human beings.
I’m sorry, but this is not conservatism. This is just atavistic fuckwittery.
“I am apologizing. If I’ve offended the medical officer of health, Doug Ford apologizes to him,” Ford said.
“Who is going to apologize to the taxpayers when they go out and spend $60,000 on a transportation study?”
Help me out here, Dougie. Why should anyone, least of all David McKeown, apologize for a traffic study?
Last night, southern Manhattan reportedly received a 13.88-foot storm surge, a record high and more than enough to flood much of the city. We’ve all seen the pictures. What’s more, according to Ben Orlove, director of the Master’s Program in Climate and Society at Columbia University, about a foot of that surge would not have been there if not for the sea-level rise already caused by climate change over the course of the 20th century.
So, yes, we knew. We knew well ahead of time that this could happen, and we knew global warming was already making it worse. We knew, but we did virtually nothing. (Well, New York did empanel a sea-level-rise task force, which put out a report — and you can see how that turned out.)
Well, Doug, thanks for asking. (Remember! There’s no such thing as a stupid question. But if there were, this would be one of them.)
Ed Keenan. FTW, as the young folks say these days.
Conflict of interest and the toxic Ford effect | #TOpoli
It’s no surprise that the Ford conflict-of-interest proceedings have our attention. Laughs, drama, embarrassment, and more #headdesk moments than you can shake an Escalade at — this has it all.
And of course, it’s no surprise that it’s generating more noise, commentary and Twitters (that is what the young folks are calling it these days, innit?) than any reasonable person can normally keep track of. If there’s any quick observation here, it’s that whatever your views of the mayor, nothing coming out of these hearings is likely to change them. The storylines likely to emerge are, also, predictable, whether you’re talking about the sneering from the Downtown Elitist Lefties on teh Tweetr or the standard braying from the tabloid poo-flingers.
But let’s take a breath, step back, and try for a somewhat higher-level view, because despite the easy snark, there’s a larger lesson in this.
That lesson goes beyond conflict of interest, reading behind the wheel, blowing past open streetcar doors, mischaracterizing the St. Clair ROW, fumbling the transit file, all-night deputations, lack of curiosity, simplistic lapel-button slogans, Ferris wheels, drunken tirades at Leaf games, lies, charging at Star reporters with fist cocked, or bike lanes. If there’s an overarching theme here, it’s this: we’ve seen, over the past day and half, just how uninformed and disengaged our Chief Magistrate seems to be when it comes to the mechanics of government and the requirements of his job. And yet, we’re faced with the possibility that a large number of our fellow citizens are just going “meh … what are you gonna do. That’s Rob Ford.”
And it’s then that the realization sinks in. Just consider the impact that the Ford ascendancy’s had upon politics, upon governance, upon public conversation, upon civic life in our city. Consider the effect on our standards for transparency, for integrity, for intelligence and the ability to work collaboratively. If I were to try summing up the effect, I’d argue that the Ford era has enervated us so profoundly that it’s lowered our expectations of government, and by extension, of ourselves. It’s stripping the whole notion of “citizenship” of any sense that it’s something honourable, something to be cared for and stewarded.
It wasn’t that long ago that ignorance, shallow thinking, and disengagement were considered drawbacks. They weren’t marks of pride or authenticity; they were things to be downplayed, traits you wanted to work to overcome. Now? We just shrug it off. We’re used to it.
I’m not going to try predicting the outcome of this particular court file. Opinions on its merits and its political significance are plentiful, and while I don’t necessarily agree with him, I’d recommend Matt Elliott’s take in particular. I’ve also been mulling over Michael Kolberg’s argument at the Toronto Standard: what if Ford gets struck down, runs again, and wins? Initially, my inclination was to blow off that possibility, reasoning that the dead-enders of Ford Nation are so invested in their victim complex and committed to avoiding critical thought that they’re going to lose their shit no matter what happens. But Michael may be on to something with this:
… despite the technical details being debated by pundits and political junkies in the City Hall bubble, I’m not convinced that inside baseball stuff has any effect on the broader electorate. Those of us who choose to live inside the bubble tend to forget that there is a huge contingent of voters who chose their leaders based on gut-instinct.
It’s instructive, in that regard, to recall something Trish Hennessey wrote almost a year ago about the mythologies underlying the Ford appeal, in particular because of the way they tie into Michael’s argument about gut instinct.
He made them feel hopeful that positive change was coming; that he was going to punch a hole into the bubble of the elites. When they talked about Rob Ford, they often spoke in appreciative, glowing terms – in the same way they spoke about another well-loved politician, Jack Layton. In the focus group discussions, they saw little ideological divide between Jack Layton and Rob Ford. Rather, they felt the two men had in common a sincere drive to take on the struggle of the people despite great odds.
My response to Trish’s piece may have been a little intemperate, but she’s just as right now as she was then. The events of the past year have simply brought things into sharper relief.
But back to people voting on gut instinct. We all know the Victim Narrative the tabloid screed-writers and talk-radio yellers will be spinning — witch hunt, bullies, elitists, a regular guy being persecuted by a bunch of sore losers, yada yada yada. It may not have much to do with factual accuracy, but it’s got emotional resonance.
The key, I’d submit, is to frame a counternarrative with just as much emotional resonance. And Rob Ford’s testimony yesterday has furnished us with plenty of material for that.
How would you feel about a guy who grows up privileged, who’s had more money, support, family connection and opportunity than most of us will ever see, but who’s never had to deal with the consequences of his actions? Not only does he not follow the rules — he doesn’t even bother to figure out what the rules are. Add that to a demonstrated record of stretching the truth and obvious unfamiliarity with the requirements of his job as both mayor and councillor and we’ve got something with the potential to hit a lot of people right where they live.
One of the guy’s most powerful assets to date has been his regular-guy appeal. I’m just like you folks! Well, no. Ordinary people have to follow the rules and face the consequences when they don’t, but not him. He thinks he’s special. He thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Be interesting to see how that plays on the campaign trail, whether it’s now or in 2014.
Update: Now playing over at TorontoCitizens.
- @JohnLorinc and @GraphicMatt on Rob Ford and conflict of interest | #TOpoli
- @Cityslikr, @NickKouvalis, and more on controlling the narrative: the runup to 2014 | #TOpoli
- Politics, decency, and finding common ground: the restoration of civility | #TOpoli #cdnpoli
- Why making fun of Rob Ford’s weight isn’t cool | #TOpoli
One of the great revelations of this political season has been the pettiness and whininess of many of the very wealthiest Americans — not to mention what awful people they are.
… no one has ever accused our mayor of being insightful. And his compulsive need to open his mouth and demonstrate his thoughtlessness and ignorance winds up consuming the political discussion.
Another insightful observation from Ed Keenan.
But it prompts another observation: who says we have to waste time and energy talking about what a moron the mayor is? A growing number of councillors have shown that they’re quite capable of leaving him out of adult discussions; there’s no reason we can’t follow their example.
Sure, maybe it’s an easy hit every time he opens his mouth. And perhaps there’s an argument that when the mayor of Canada’s largest city demonstrates, yet again, that he has no idea what the fuck he’s talking about, it’s “news.” This is something about which thoughtful people can disagree.
The key words there, however, are “yet again.” Really, is it any surprise any more? The mayor’s out to lunch. We know. Let’s move on. If other councillors can govern around him, then surely we can talk about things in the same spirit.
- Video: @TOMayorFord dodges questions about voting against community programs | #TOpoli #TeamFord #PublicGood
- Mayor Rob Ford silently votes against every community grants program, again | #TOpoli
- Yo, Rob. Isn’t it time to think about doing something else? | #TOpoli
- Revisiting #FordNation: some hard truths | #TOpoli @cityslikr @trishhennessy