He's back from rehab, calling himself a changed man. We've heard this before, time and again. Maybe he really can stop the drinking, the drugs and the instances of ranting, racist and sexist. But in all other respects, in the areas that matter to voters, the Rob Ford of Monday's press conference sounded like the same old mayor: spinning, self-justifying and above all not answering questions, of which there are many. At the end of his speech, which was half reality TV confessional and half re-election pitch, you could hear reporters shouting them out. "Will you co-operate with the police?" "Did you ask Sandro Lisi to get the crack video?" Mr. Ford ignored them, as he has for more than a year, and walked off stage.
Mr. Ford became Toronto's mayor with an asterisk, a mayor of diminished powers and respect, for a reason. He has abused his public office while claiming to be standing up for the public. He has long avoided answering rather large questions about his business, public and private, and his many close involvements with people with lengthy rap sheets. Monday's event was a new low. Few journalists were allowed entry; many news organizations and some of the most prominent reporters covering his troubling affairs were excluded. In any case, he took no questions. Not one. The chief magistrate of Canada's largest city marked his return from two months of isolation with a press conference that had little press, and zero conference.
One of Mr. Ford's stranger statements on Monday, thrown out without any elaboration, was this: "I was blind to the dangers of some of the company I kept, and those associations have ended."
What associations? What dangers? The mayor has close and frequent dealings with friends whose histories read like a set-up for a new season of The Sopranos. Which ones is he referring to? Will he answer questions about these friends and their actions? Will he answer questions from the police? Monday's silence was nothing new; it was what Mr. Ford has been offering since last year. But denial, as he may have learned in rehab, isn't healthy. It can't fix problems, or make them go away.