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Rob Ford And The War Against The Phonies

Now that former Toronto mayor Rob Ford is dead the same people who gave him no respite in life are the souls of compassion. There were pious invocations of his struggle against cancer and the unique bond he had with the people whom Toronto City Hall routinely ignores. The same media outfits that pursued him in helicopters, chased his car and peered into his private yard— in a way they’d never done to anyone else in public life before— are now empathetic.


But in life, Ford represented a genuine threat to the enduring power and influence of Toronto’s beautiful people, those whose enlightened opinions are shaped at the patisserie section of Pusateris or in the pages of NOW magazine. It was imperative that he be crushed. When the posse gathered it had the media, arts community and political left firmly in the saddle.

Now it’s safe to come out of the progressive silos again. The bogey man is gone. The pitchforks of derision and the bonfires of scorn can be still. Our national… er, local nightmare is over. With Ford out of the way, compassion and sensitivity for the family is easy.

Ford did them a huge favour by having a private life that verged on Breaking Bad, a mixture of drugs, punks and people who were mysteriously found dead. The distractions allowed them to ignore the genuine populist movement Ford represented. It gave them an out. They took it like a wolf takes a lamb chop.


It became bait-the-bear, treating Ford’s addiction issues like a Simpsons episode in both the Canadian and American progressive press. Oh, what fun they had mocking him and the people he represented, the schmendricks who are supposed to dutifully cough up their taxes and thank God for Kathleen Wynne’s beneficence. In time, they were able to turn the focus from the army of rent seekers and careerist bureaucrats who’d put the city into massive debt.


Now it’s safe to come out of the progressive silos again. The bogey man is gone. The pitchforks of derision and the bonfires of scorn can be still. Our national… er, local nightmare is over. With Ford out of the way, compassion and sensitivity for the family is easy.


If the perfect people’s posse sounds familiar, it’s the same pushback being faced now by Donald Trump in the Republican — and perhaps presidential— election. In his shambolic method, Trump is laying to waste Republicans who prefer death-by-Hillary to a challenge to their conservative orthodoxy. He is raw and bumptious. He is also authentic in a way that a Washington legend like Clinton can never hope to achieve.


There are “Stop Trump” movements from GOP donors and party organs such as National Review. They rail and reason and ramble against him. It only serves to reinforce the notion of his supporters that the fix is in. It’s Trump’s impertinence, not his grasp of NATO or H1 visas that has boosted him from talk-show punch line to putative Republican favourite.


If the GOP nellies fail to stop Trump, prepare for an Operation Overlord from the left, the cabal of civil-service unions, teachers groups, minority grievance hucksters and left-wing actors who make up the modern Democratic party. The demonstrations crashing Trump rallies are a strawberry social next to the noise that will emerge from the entitled peoples should Trump show signs of winning the presidency.


The shell-shocked Wolf Blitzer countenance on CNN as he attempted to defenstrate Trump on issues sums up the class revulsion at one of their own mixing with the unwashed. 


In the end, the most important thing is not issues but the retention of power. When the beloved issues crumble, re-double the assault on Trump or Ford. Any concession is a sign that the ruling consensus is losing its grip on power and influence. Not even Uncle Bernie Sanders can be allowed to mess with this cash box.


It’s why we see such vitriol from the Robert F, Kennedys, the Naomi Kleins, the Barack Obamas when the orthodoxy is put in play. If climate computer models miss by a mile then adjust the data till it fits the narrative. And always attack. Groupthink is all.


For giggles, highly offended liberals are vowing to move to Canada if Trump is elected. Here in Canada they’ll find a comfort zone. Despite the occasional Rob Ford or outlier province in Alberta, Canada is safely in the bosom of Justin Trudeau liberalism, a warm pool of righteous goo. Never is heard a discouraging word in the eternal sunshine of his spotless mind.


At least American conservatives have developed a bullshit detector in the Tea Party. They persevere against the head winds of actors, media stooges, academics and outright nutters calling them racists, misogynists or worse. By comparison, Canadian conservatives are enervated wonks, afraid of their own policy shadow, eager to co-opt the language of the left in a vain attempt to gain office. 


Harper briefly withstood the Ottawa urge for going-along; the scathing criticisms of Stephan Dion and Michael Ignatieff established a brief beach head against the chosen ones. But by the time he exited last year he was just another red tory selling conservatism in a pretty liberal dress. It took Justin about 10 minutes to reset the clocks to the kind of country Michael Moore wants to embrace.


So RIP Rob Ford. You were far from perfect. But you made your point better than almost all the rest.

Bruce Dowbiggin @dowbboy

Bruce's career is unmatched in Canada for its diversity and breadth of experience with successful stints in television, radio and print. A two-time winner of the Gemini Award as Canada's top television sports broadcaster, he is also the best-selling author of seven books. He was a featured columnist for the Calgary Herald (1998-2009) and the Globe & Mail (2009-2013).