Do you know what it means to “pull a Rob Ford”? No doubt most people can interpret that newly minted catchphrase, which surfaced last week on Twitter.
I’m sure we’ll hear it often in the days ahead.
The meaning is obvious: a politician doing something stupid which puts them and the people they represent in an embarrassing light. It’s even more demeaning than politicians getting caught with their hands in the cookie jar or padding their office expenses.
Thanks to the outrageous behavior and reactions of Toronto’s mayor, people in public life who, from time to time, make some pretty stupid mistakes, are going to carry an even heavier burden of guilt and embarrassment.
Caught drinking and driving? Caught smoking dope? Caught telling lies about your bad behaviour? Caught making a politically incorrect remark?
Uh-oh! You’ve been caught pulling a Rob Ford.
This fiasco in Toronto has been quite a spectacle.
The mayor has admitted to a lot of dumb things and his stubborn refusal to take a leave of absence or step down has enraged members of his council.
Not surprisingly, the council and a majority of the people in Toronto want him gone, but Ford is using a form of reasoning other politically minded people simply can’t fathom to stick it out.
He refuses to leave the stage and so the embarrassment for Toronto continues.
The special meetings of Toronto city council, carried live on national television, was like watching a soap opera.
It’s fair to say that all other news ended up taking a back seat to this one municipal story.
Rob Ford, defiant to the end, pranced, paced, preached, taunted and declared himself a victim of malicious intrigue as council voted to strip him of his privileges and powers.
Did that dramatic vote solve anything?
I’m not sure city council thought it all the way through.
If stripping him of powers meant that he would no longer show up to work every day, then fine, they accomplished the goal. But that’s not the case.
Rob Ford is still the mayor, still has a staff, is still the head of council and intends to show up at the office every day. He says he will run in the next election and you can’t help but think that at some point people are going to feel as if the entire world has ganged up on him. If he wants to, he can keep making news right from the steps of Toronto City Hall.
Rob Ford and his brother, Coun. Doug Ford, plan to challenge the council vote in court.
That action alone will keep the story running for weeks.
In other words, what the council did by taking this dramatic but ineffectual action was to — dare I say it — pull a Rob Ford.
Many commentators have said Rob Ford needs professional help. Some have even criticized the media for making too much of the story, given that Ford is a sick man dealing with his “demons” (a.k.a. addictions).
I have no idea if the man is sick or not. I’m sure we’ll learn more on that in the days ahead.
Ford says he’s no longer drinking, he’s not addicted to drugs and he is embarking on a weight-loss program to improve his health. He hopes to lose 30 pounds in the next 90 days.
Maybe he thinks the more his waistline shrinks the more his popular support will expand. Maybe he’s right; Rob Ford is not without his supporters.
Premier Kathy Dunderdale, conscious of the political quagmire, was coy when questioned by reporters, saying she wouldn’t say too much. She was just glad we are more “civilized” in politics here at home.
Smart response. No pulling a Rob Ford for her.
Randy Simms is a political commentator and broadcaster. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org