There’s No Hope of Renewal for Rob Ford, or for Toronto, Until Rob Ford is No Longer the Mayor

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THE LATE COMEDIAN Mitch Hedberg had a line that he “used to do drugs.” A moment for the applause, and then this: “I still do drugs, but I used to, too.”

He wasn’t the first observational comedian to observe, and to exploit for comedic effect, the moist deference shown to the reformed. Say that you once, a long time ago, drank to such excess that you abused your wife, and they’ll applaud you for your virtue of not being a drunken woman beater. Say you’ve found the Lord, and they’ll nod importantly, shoving the pedestal under you as you insist how “humbling” it all is.

It’s conceivable that one day Toronto’s mayor will be regarded, at least by some, a hero – for not smoking crack and not holding a city of 2.5 million captive to a self-absorbed soap opera. Doubtless that prospect has not been lost on brother Doug, the half of a dynamic duo we’ve submitted to less scrutiny than we perhaps ought to have done, only because his accomplice has an uncanny way of sucking up all the oxygen and drawing all the attention.

There’s nothing funny about any of this, but Doug Ford was unintentionally comical today when he insisted that the mayor was in fact in rehab, and that “he wouldn’t put his reputation on the line to put out false information.” The latent joke in this claim requires explanation to no one. As everyone is well aware, the only way the mayor could “put his reputation on the line” is by telling the truth. Putting out false information is his repute.

Remember the day when you could go to a bar, get hammered and high, shout racial epithets and hector the bartender for another round, all while enjoying your precious privacy? No, because that day never existed, except in the petitions of Doug Ford. The mayor should be left alone, so long as he’s rehabilitating himself. Unfortunately, it’s Rob Ford himself who has created precisely the conditions which make this difficult, if not impossible.

No one trusts that he’s really doing what he claims, and why should they? Then there are the mayor’s unhelpful calls to Joe Warmington, of the Toronto Sun, and yet more video of a stuporous Rob Ford introducing more complications and sub-narratives and drama and public skepticism. Enough, already. How is it that this massive wreck of a human being has not yet resigned or been ejected?

By now it ought to be clear to all that Rob Ford will have no chance at true regeneration until one or the other has happened. The same must be said of the city.

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