Rob Ford and the tragedy of pawns

On May 22, 2013, in Uncategorized, by Patricia

I haven’t seen the film, The Manchurian Candidate, for years, but I see it replaying in the tragi-comic play that stars the mayor of my city, Rob Ford.
When the iPhone recording of him apparently smoking something that requires you to wave a lighter back and forth beneath a glass pipe was described by Gawker and The Toronto Star a few days ago – it seems like months — the reporters quoted the smoker as follows:
“I’m fucking right wing,” Ford mutters at one point. “Everyone expects me to be right-wing, I’m…” and his voice trails off.”
Ah, okay. For me, the veracity of this recording was confirmed right there. Yes, digital recordings can be doctored, and drug dealers can’t be trusted the way – oh, say — psychiatrists writing prescriptions for Oxytocin or atypical anti-psychotics can be, but what drug dealer has the literary finesse of screenwriter Richard Condon?
Who would manufacture a recording that features such a perfect encapsulation of Rob Ford’s secretly-resented role as the Manchurian Candidate for Harper’s right-wing power structure? “Everyone expects me to be right-wing…”
Ford’s central drama is that, on some level, he is aware that he’s a useful idiot. In 2011, Prime Minister Stephen Harper took him fishing, and then showed up at Conservative fundraiser with him in Toronto: “Many of you may remember Rob endorsed us in the election. That helped a lot,” Harper told the crowd in the video of the private event, which someone naturally posted to Youtube. “Rob is doing something very important that needs to be done here. He is cleaning up the NDP mess here in Toronto.”
There was no “NDP mess” in Toronto at the time. The city was, and has been, emerging as one of the most sophisticated and intelligent cities in the world. But it consistently votes against the federal Conservative party, which needs at least some of its ridings in the bag in order to form a majority in parliament.
Harper needed a Rob Ford in power, to deliver Toronto. God knows what went on behind the scenes to enable that, but Ford was clearly told how his politics needed to play out. “I’m supposed to be right-wing..”
But some people are useful in their idiocy, and some aren’t. Ford is like the Conservative hive mind’s id. He is the rebellious teen in the hyper-controlled home. He is Chris, on Family Guy. He dimly suspects things, and acts out of instinct. Fuck ‘em, I’m gonna derail this train.
The person I most respect this week is Conservative Senator Vern White, formerly a police chief, who told journalists in the wake of Harper’s Senate scandal:
“For me, loyalty can never override integrity. And I hope everyone else in the Senate starts to get their head around that. Now, some have that, but I hope everybody starts understanding that integrity’s all we have, that loyalty can’t be more important than integrity.”
Please, let’s hope that insight catches on among Conservative politicians this weekend.

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