Toronto Mayor Rob Ford could very well be the smartest stupid politician in the world.
On Wednesday, the wisecracking, crack-smoking leader of Canada's largest city took his rogue show before its City Council. Having finally admitted — after months of denials, and not until confronted with video evidence — that he had indeed smoked crack cocaine, Ford faced off with the city's 44-member council. (Really, 44? I mean, Toronto has about 2.6 million people; Los Angeles, with a population of about 3.8 million, gets by with just 15 council members. Is this some kind of full-employment policy?)
The highlight — or lowlight — came when former Ford ally Denzil Minnan-Wong asked hizzoner whether he had ever purchased illegal drugs. "Yes, I have," Ford said after a long pause, adding: "I understand the embarrassment that I have caused. I am humiliated by it."
All evidence to the contrary, Mr. Mayor. Especially when you follow that up with this statement: "I'm most definitely keeping this job. I am not leaving here. I'm going to sit here and going to attend every meeting."
That's presumably "attend every meeting" neither stoned nor stumbling-down drunk (though apparently no one pressed him on this point), as he said he was when he smoked crack — as though that's a, you know, good excuse for that sort of behavior.
Oh, and Ford also had this to say: "I asked for forgiveness, I have apologized, I want to move on. That's all I can say right now."
My dad, who trained for a time in the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II, used to talk about "those crazy Canadians." (OK, he didn't say Canadians, exactly.) I always thought he exaggerated. And some may recall that, after a vacation to Nova Scotia this year, I wrote glowingly about Canadians and how polite they are.
But I'm afraid that very quality is their undoing in this battle with a political Antichrist. After all, here you have a mayor who admits to buying and using an illegal drug — not to mention being, apparently, a public drunk and an all-around bully — and what's Toronto's political power structure doing about it? Why, they presented a petition signed by 30 of the 44 council members calling on Ford to step down temporarily. Then, in Toronto's equivalent of a "Profiles in Courage" moment, the council voted 41 to 2 to formally accept said petition.
That'll show him!
Ford has said and done some really stupid things, but he also obviously understands his colleagues. He knows they don't have the power to remove him (and it's better to just not ask how that can be the case). And he certainly seems to understand that his too-polite countrymen just can't bring themselves to engineer his ouster, as other cities have done with their wayward mayors (see Filner, Bob, and San Diego).
Which means that the good folks of Toronto probably haven't seen the last of big bad Rob Ford.
No, that may not be right, but it's certainly polite.