Rob Ford, it would seem, has finally crossed his Rubicon of personal misconduct and self-admitted, public criminal behaviour.
Despite a record of vile and transparently racist, sexist, anti-democratic conduct, Ford, a wealthy child of a powerful political family, was able to pursue his relentlessly reactionary and anti-social agenda with what was relatively little consequence for a very long time.
When the first round of revelations came, nothing happened. People, including the municipal political establishment, tacitly accepted Rob Ford's obvious lies over the evidence of reporters. Many on both the right (and even some on the left) put forth bizarre narratives that it did not matter, somehow, if the mayor was a crack cocaine using drunk who abused his wife and made sexist, racist and homophobic remarks, because this was all apparently "personal" and not about the "issues."
How, one must ask, is being a racist, sexist, homophobic, substance abuser and drunk who used his office as a way to enable his bigotry, self-admitted criminal activity and personal addictions not a political issue? Especially given that his wealth and power have transparently afforded him treatment that others would never have received and especially given that he, with astonishing hypocrisy, opposes giving second chances to anyone other than himself.
Eventually these initial reports of crack use in clearly dangerous circumstances, were confirmed. Ford was, indeed, filmed in a video doing crack with people who then went on to be, in some cases, killed. His sidekick was arrested and charged with extortion, a fact that did not prevent Ford, the mayor of the largest city in the country, from appearing with him at an Etobicoke diner not long after.
When the mayor finally admitted that what the reports had said were true, he tried to frame them as "personal mistakes" that were "in the past."
However, as we all know, Ford's descent into self-destructive parody of himself did not, as was predictable, end.
As with any far-right politician who has succeeded in building a movement entirely around their own persona, Ford tried to frame the truth about his own conduct as, variously, a "conspiracy" by the media, the police chief, the firefighters, the city ombudsman, the city manager, or whoever, ever, said or did anything to try to, in their view, undermine the Doug and Rob bully boy brother show.
It was an outright series of attempts at intimidation of anyone who exposed anything about the Fords that the Fords then framed as "politics." They made themselves the "victims" in a story where they were the only ones who had transgressed. This is a fairly remarkable achievement in its own way, and one that would not have been possible without the utterly irrational and absurd willingness of many to facilitate this conduct by accepting the truly grotesque and facile framing of it as "personal."
Now this has, perhaps finally, come crashing down.
Ford, yet again, has been caught conducting himself in inexcusably sexist and ugly ways. Saying, for example, of one of his female opponents in the election that "I'd like to f-----g jam her." That he was drunk, allegedly, will be simply another in a long series of excuses.
Does anyone, anywhere, still really believe that this is not how he thinks when he is sober? He is a misogynist racist and, as is true of most of his ilk, this comes out even more when he "has had a few" on "his own time."
Ford has also, again, been allegedly caught on film using what seems to be crack with his sister, a self-admitted drug addict with ties to neo-Nazis, and with sidekick Lisi.
Ford has now taken a "leave of absence" from being mayor in name only and from his campaign. Presumably this is a last ditch effort to try to stay in the race at all. Presumably it seeks to distract, at an early stage, from the appalling behaviour, misconduct and criminal activity.
We must ensure that it does not. Quite apart from civic policy, where Rob Ford's agenda is profoundly reactionary, his personal misconduct is a political issue of tremendous import.
If a wealthy white male with many political connections is never held to account for misogyny, homophobia, racism, intimidation of opponents, self-admitted criminal activity and obviously outrageous and unacceptable behaviour "on the job" that would get any other worker doing any other job fired, then one has to think that the political and judicial system that we live in now is just as corrupted and compromised as it ever was. Maybe it is.
Stepping "aside" to supposedly get "help" is not enough. Ford's conduct is not wrong because he has "problems." It is wrong because of who he is and what he represents. Rehab will not change the fact that he is an abusive bigot.
That was what he always was and is intrinsic to not only his politics, but also the politics of those who support and supported him.