Is there a part of you which feels sorry for Rob Ford? Part of me wants to. Because as much as Mr. Ford is the architect of his own repeated misadventures and seems unable, or perhaps more accurately unwilling to rein in his penchant for mad rants, in turn disseminated with glee by late-night television humourists and headlined by news organizations with frankly more important stuff to report, there’s something about Ford which creates loyalty even now, to a not entirely insignificant number of people usually labeled as Ford Nation.
Ford Nation is written off by some as a far-right contingent of misogynists and intolerant rubes. Mr. Ford has done little to not shine that nasty light on himself, given outbursts such as his ugly recent sexual reference to Toronto Mayoral candidate Karen Stintz.
The thing is, when I’ve spoken with self-declared Rob Ford supporters on air, they hardly sound like beer-belching and flatulent human backfires. They don’t as a rule make excuses for their man’s social and personal behaviour, but they do express support for his fiscal policies and buy in to his oft-stated affection for the average guy and gal.
Here’s why I think Rob Ford still commands some degree of voter loyalty. He’s not slick. His physique and rumpled clothing could belong to any working stiff anywhere. When he speaks on the record Ford uses ten dollar words to commit to fiscal accountability toward billion dollar budgets. His image is of the little guy in a really big suit.
We also live in a time during which it’s more acceptable for families to speak of dealing or having dealt with loved ones struggling with addiction issues. Rob Ford could be that family member.
I’m not excusing Mr. Ford’s behaviour, nor his lying about smoking crack cocaine, nor his repugnant sexual remarks. I’ve spoken with Rob Ford only once on air and that was briefly by phone during the previous municipal election campaign. His brother and Toronto councillor Doug has though been a guest on a number of occasions, including times when the Mayor’s public statement du jour seems to have caught the councillor off guard.
I’ve never met either man in person.
So why would any of feel any degree of “sorry” for Rob Ford. None of us has previously witnessed this level or type of ongoing, seemingly unending self-destruction in the most public of arenas. It’s not pleasant and Mr. Ford, once his rehabilitation treatments are concluded, should remember his wife and children and not Jimmy Kimmel must be his priority.
Written by: Roy Green