What can you say about Rob Ford? Readers of this blog know that I don’t hold him in any high regard. He’s a buffoon. I figure that when there is a continuous, recurring bad smell around something for a long time, it usually means that something’s rotten.
So the recent allegations of crack smoking provides only mild surprise. Before starting a hearty chant of “I told you so,” lets take a look at the facts.
I see this as being a huge story no matter how it plays out.
If the story ends up being bogus, then The Toronto Star, a major and reputable newspaper, has made a serious error in journalistic judgement and has placed itself in the same trash bin as The National Enquirer. That’s a huge story in itself, leading to follow-up law suits. The fact that the Star reporters viewed the video in question over two weeks before breaking the news indicates that the actual video is not cut and dry, but is probably somewhat ambiguous. If it were clear, I’m sure that they wouldn’t have waited until they were scooped by another media source (The Gawker – perhaps not the most reputable site itself). However, I have a hard time believing that The Star is suicidal and so there must be something to this. Perhaps the video is not clearly showing crack smoking, but maybe a bong or something. Perhaps it’s too grainy to be sure that it’s the mayor. Or perhaps the idea of giving $200 000 to Somali drug dealers just wasn’t that appealing.
On the other hand, maybe the video is the real deal, showing Rob Ford smoking crack, or perhaps another drug. Just as one wonders about the stupidity of The Star, you can also wonder whether Ford could be so stupid. The difference is that Ford has demonstrated poor judgement and an unrealistic state of denial several times in the past, -even if you discount the incidents that are questionable. Not only does Rob Ford seem all too quiet about this accusation, but so does his brother, saying only that he’s never seen Rob associate himself with crack. -Not with drugs, with crack.
While paying off drug dealers with a huge price tag for this video is very unsavory, getting hold of it one way or another is essential. It’s evidence. The testimony of two sets of reporters indicates that it is at least credible. It’s probably not pure scam material. From a public service point of view, there can be no question that a man who may have demonstrated such an incredibly poor sense of judgement should not be the mayor of Toronto. Not only that, but it would cast new light on all of the other incidents that Ford has managed to sidestep over the past years. It would, indeed, be damning. Has Ford himself offered to take a drug test, or has he done so in the past? (I don’t know whether such tests would be able to detect drug use several months in the past. Perhaps all politicians should have regular drug tests. As public servants their ability to make responsible decisions is in the public interest, and drug dependency could easily lead to blackmail or being compelled by criminal elements.) Has he provided any explanation that might settle the rumors? No. His silence may be seen as a prudent legal stance if he is innocent, or the calm before the storm if he is guilty.
Either way, the accusations have gone world wide, prompting other news agencies to dig up the pile of manure surrounding Ford that Torontonians have witnessed over the past years, but will be fresh fodder for foreign markets. When summarized, Ford’s career and encounters with the media are quite entertaining, or at least would be had it not been at the expense of a great city. One way or another, I think he’s finished.
And yet the world is full of surprises. Just look at Anthony Weiner.