By Peter York
In the past two weeks I have been wondering who Rob Ford sees when he looks in the mirror — a 20-year-old pixie pop star or the mayor of Toronto. Lately it seems that he’s been playing the role of pop star.
Maybe Mayor Ford should take a few tips from Miley’s playbook.
The Rob Ford story is now familiar in many American homes. The Mayor of Toronto’s name has become a far more recognized name than Stephen Harper. (Who?) The “Crack Smoking Mayor” or “Mayor McCracken” has been scrutinized and criticized from seemingly endless coverage the past week and a half by Canadian and American news organizations for a list of alleged offenses that continues to grow by the day, ranging from illegal drug use to soliciting call girls to driving while under the influence. Through it all Ford has moved forward, crashing headlong into opponents (Figuratively and literally) and in the end he is left without his staff, most of his budget, and a good deal of his power.
And yet Rob Ford’s base remains strong as a rock, supporting their nationally unpopular mayor who is up for reelection in 2014 and believes he still has a very good chance to win. And it is not hard to imagine that victory. As of November 15, Ford still held a 40 percent approval rating among Toronto residents. And although a good majority of those who support Mayor Ford want him to seek help and take a temporary leave from office, they still approve of the job he is doing as mayor.
Those that follow Canadian politics know that Ford has already been ousted from office once before and came back from his first scandal more popular than ever. He is an astoundingly resilient politician who ran on a platform of “ending the gravy train” of wealthy Toronto politicians and to increase access to public transportation in the suburbs while cutting the city’s budget. And it looks like it has worked for the most part. He keeps coming back again and again though he is the laughing stock of most of North America. Not unlike Miley Cyrus.
In fact, Ford could learn some things from the weekly storm of attention that has swelled over the barely-legal pop star. True, she is not responsible for millions of people as an elected official, but she does hold the influence of over 15 million eyes, and she rarely wastes a moment to control her carefree party message and to keep people talking about her. She does keep captive audiences doing weird and questionable things, from her foam finger incident at the MTV VMAs to her most recent exploits with weed at the MTV EMAs, but they seem to produce results.
And while Ford has appeared on the same shows that Miley Cyrus was on just a month ago (like Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, Buzzfeed and The Today Show), Mayor Ford hasn’t had garnered quite the same public response. He can’t sell any music (though if he did I might buy it), and the only fans that he has captivated are those that would capitalize on his next blunder. Long story short, he can’t make fun of himself in the same way Miley can. In fact, Ford can’t seem to speak to Matt Lauer as well as Miley. (See for yourself: Ford/Miley)
Rob Ford is not a young 20 year old anymore. He is an elected public official and he can’t get away with living like a pop star. When he looks in the mirror this morning he needs to decide who he is and how he can best apologize to the people of Toronto. He has run as the people’s candidate in the past — the man that you could sit down and have a beer with. But now he has the image of an addict and must take his next actions cautiously. Ford has an opportunity to recover some face on the world stage and potentially save his bid for a second term as Mayor. His base has not abandoned him, but he must reform if he is to ever be taken seriously again.
Peter York is a salesman and writer from the suburbs of Detroit, currently residing in New York City. He holds degrees in history and international affairs from Xavier University, and has dabbled as an actor, a writer, a salesman, a tour guide and a professional popcorn maker.