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Monday, September 20, 2010

Suprisingly, someone at EYE Weekly (sort of) gets why Rob Ford is winning

EYE Weekly, a free-weekly magazine that is owned by The Toronto Star's parent company, The Star Media Group, has leftist leanings and is supported in large part by prostitution ads.

It's not the place one expects to find meaningful insight into anything.  But while most of his column is an attack on Rob Ford, Edward Keenan, writing in EYE, uncharacteristically for that outlet, strives to understand Ford. Given the limitations of Keenan's perspective, he presents not so much a genuinely accurate depiction of the real Rob Ford as he captures some of the qualities that make him appealing to the public. It makes for interesting reading:

"as the campaign has progressed, I’ve found myself having to stop conversations with people I generally agree with to advocate for Ford. Here’s the real defence: Rob Ford is full of passionate intensity. 
The ridiculously facile interpretation of city spending he proposes is his genuine understanding of the situation — he is viscerally angered when he perceives money being wasted and actually thinks the budget could be balanced by cutting waste. He does what he says he’ll do when it comes to serving constituents, having spent most of his time as a councillor returning phone calls and personally visiting Torontonians to help them navigate bureaucracy and solve their problems. He believes streetcars and bikes should get off the roads because he thinks like a suburban driver, and is simply incapable of imagining the experience of those hundreds of thousands who commute in other ways. He is no one’s puppet, since he has no friends who are operators of any kind at city hall, and he accepts advice from no one outside his immediate family. Except when childishly denying personal-life indiscretions or poorly thought-out comments, he speaks his simple truth as plainly as he can.
In short, he is incapable of spin and his branding — such as it is — of himself as a plain-spoken, unapologetic truth teller is an honest representation.
Ford has not been playing dirty in this campaign, nor has he wavered or pandered or changed his message one iota. In fact, his message has not changed in a decade. Nothing at all has been surprising about his campaign. Nothing, that is, except his popularity.
In response to that popularity, the main lines of attack are misguided: yes, he is fat, and how is that at all relevant? (Pantalone is short, Rossi is bald, Smitherman is gay — are these things the anti-Ford contingent really wants to consider negatives?) We have no reason to believe he is violent towards women, as the aftermath of his arrest showed. His US pot possession situation over a decade ago: so what? Did you think it disqualifying that Clinton smoked pot? That Belinda Stronach did? That Trudeau did?
Most of all, I think accusations that he is mean-spirited are untrue, and the idea that he’s some kind of malevolent Machiavellian schemer is a feeble and baseless excuse for the incompetence of his opponents"

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