It’s probably not smart to call the media “a bunch of maggots” – even when they’re crawling in your eyes and ears.
But Toronto Mayor Rob Ford couldn’t help himself. “Maggots” was the word he used on his Sunday radio show. (Actually, I’m guessing he was about to say something more profane, then remembered he was on the air.) He flatly denied there was a video of him allegedly smoking crack cocaine, even though simple reasoning suggests there is. (It’s almost impossible to fake these things.) His brother, Councillor Doug Ford, who has denied a Globe and Mail story that he dealt hash back in the 1980s, is no fan of reporters either. “Eighty per cent of [them] are nasty son-of-a-guns,” he said.
What the mayor hasn’t said is: “I’ve never smoked crack cocaine.” And there’s the problem.
His office is a train wreck. Three of his staff have quit or been fired. City Hall is paralyzed as the wreckage piles up.
When you’re in a corner, it’s almost irresistible to blame the media. When you’re the Fords, you play the victim card and accuse the liberal elites and their media allies of being out to get you, despite your tireless dedication to the public interest.
“If I was walking down the street and one of the lefties was driving, I’d make sure I’d jump on the sidewalk,” Doug declared on the radio. “Because you know why? We’ve stopped the social elites that have run this city for 50 years.”
The trouble is, the social elites love this story. So does almost everybody else. People can’t get enough of it. Every newspaper in Toronto, including the conservative ones, is now on the mayor’s case. And for every scold who wags a finger at the media’s so-called gotcha journalism, there are 10 more people who can’t wait for the next instalment.
Speaking of crackups, let’s not forget the scandal in Ottawa. It’s juicy too. Certain senators appear to have had their hands in the cookie jar, and, unfortunately for the government, most of them are well-known Conservatives. Consequently, the party’s damage-control squad has been sounding not unlike the Fords.
“I know more than most that around this town, populated by Liberal elites and their media lickspittles, tut-tutting about our government and yearning for the good old days, that we are never given the benefit of the doubt and are rarely given credit for all the good work that we do,” said Marjory LeBreton, the senior senator who is in charge of defending her party no matter what.
Better to be a lickspittle than a maggot, I suppose. It’s a much more elevated word. I thought the only person with a vocabulary like that was Conrad Black.
Ms. LeBreton hasn’t apologized for calling us “lickspittles,” but she has changed the message track. The Conservatives have realized that the Senate spending scandals are a disaster. The only way to save themselves is to send the miscreants into outer darkness and send the institution into rehab. On the weekend, Ms. LeBreton announced sweeping reforms that she, herself, will introduce. “Canadians understand that our Senate, as it stands today, must either change, or like the old upper houses of our provinces, vanish,” she intoned.
A lot of people think Mr. Ford should either change or vanish, too. Why can’t he rehabilitate himself? The strategy is tried and true: Repent, throw yourself on the mercy of the voters and hope public sympathy redeems you.
But I don’t think he’s capable of that. He still believes that if he bulls his way through this, it will all blow over, just as it always has before. If only the maggots and lickspittles weren’t out to get him, everything would be just fine.