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Saturday, August 13, 2011

@marcusbgee calls Ford on his bullshit, but who helped put him there? | #TOpoli

So a few people – Thor and Nancy for starters – are linking to this piece from the Globe's ideologically reliable urban affairs curmudgeon, who's arguing, not without reason, that Mayor Stupid should have known all along that he couldn't guarantee that there wouldn't be any service cuts or layoffs.

One hesitates to accuse Mayor Stupid of lying, chiefly because it's obvious that he can't tell the difference between true and false. You know those people who are so out of touch that they don't even know what the facts are? The kind who pull facts and numbers out of their asses and know they'll never really have to account for it? The kind who just dispense with facts entirely and go with their gut because ... well ... just because. Shut up and fuck off.

And Marcus, in fairness, makes a good point in answer to the predictable response from cynics who just shrug and go "so what? Politicians lie all the time on the campaign trail." My friend @cityslikr had a trenchant and persuasive response to that a couple of weeks ago, when he argued that this just feeds the pattern of cynicism, disengagement and dysfunction, and suggested that it's an abandonment of one's civic responsibility.

But back to Marcus:

Mr. Ford ran for office claiming to be something different than the usual smooth-talking politician. He was the no-nonsense ordinary guy who would cut through the baloney and tell it like it is. As the whole city knows now – and should have known then – he was peddling a line of guff. The idea that he could cut spending, taxes and debt without cutting any services or putting a single person out of work was an obvious fantasy from the start.

Well, so much for Mayor Stupid's "authenticity." No surprise there either. We've talked about that previously, and in short, who gives a shit about it now? What's so great about being authentically full of shit? When did being unable or unwilling to think things through become a Good Thing? When did stupidity, selfishness, and inchoate rage get turned into civic virtues?

But let's not let Marcus off the hook here. Let's recall what the conversation last fall was all about: City Hall is awash in gravy, spending is out of control, and let's restore some respect for the Pissed-Off Taxpayer. That was the toxic wave of resentment that propelled Rob Ford into the mayor's office. That was the theme that virtually all the other candidates, except for Joe Pants, tried to adopt – running against David Miller and arguing that the city was broken, dysfunctional, bloated, and in need of the axe-and-sledgehammer approach. Naturally, not one of them was going to be able to out-Ford Ford, because no one else was going to be able combine stupidity, drooling incoherent rage, and obliviousness to reality so successfully.

And who helped make the conversation all about that? Step forward, Marcus Gee, and the drip-drip narrative of the Pissed-Off Taxpayer. In a column last fall – it's behind the Globe paywall now, sadly – Marcus set up an interview with Peter Robinson, cheesed-off ordinary guy:


And why is he cheesed off? Well, take a guess: he's exasperated with the drip-drip-drip of steadily rising taxes and fees. It seems like every time he turns around, he's paying more money. Which is why Rob Ford's idiotic "stop the city hall gravy train" slogan is resonating with him: "Maybe there needs to be four years of chaos and cost-cutting to restore a balance. Maybe, for all his faults, if he cuts and cuts we will somehow get started again." Marcus then sets out all manner of things that Peter Robinson is now paying more for: his tax bill, the fees at his local hockey rink, his car registration fee, swimming lessons for his kids, etc. 

That was just one of a series of pieces Marcus wrote along that theme. In fairness, it's not as if he was the only one helping to perpetuate that narrative. But after spending months validating it, it's a little rich for him to turn around now and point out that it was bullshit all along.

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2 comments:

  1. Thanks for your trenchant and insightful commentary. Your analysis places the blame squarely where it belongs: lying politicians, media enablers, and a credulous electorate.

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  2. Good point about "Mayor Stupid". One would think that someone who has been on city council for years and who would run for mayor would know something about the numbers. But, with Ford's record of bad math, it pretty much seems that he is just too stupid to know that what he was saying during the campaign could not compute. And, this continues on now with the support of other stupids on the council.

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