So, after 8 days of sitting on his ample backside, Rob Ford has finally gotten around to making a statement about his alleged crack use. Boy, and what an utterly fucking useless statement it is too. He might as well have confessed.
Here’s the money quote (the rest of the statement being self-serving hand-waiving):
“There has been a serious accusation from the Toronto Star that I use crack cocaine. I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine. As for a video, I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist. It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that my colleagues and the great people of this city have been exposed to the fact that I have been judged by the media without any evidence.
This past week has not been an easy one. It has taken a great toll on my family and my friends and the great people of Toronto. For the past week, on the advice of my solicitor, I was advised not to say a word.”
Let’s take these statements apart piece by piece, shall we?
“There has been a serious accusation from the Toronto Star that I use crack cocaine.”
No, there have been serious allegations from the Toronto Star and Gawker that you use crack cocaine. Even if you think the Star is out to get you by drumming-up a false allegation about alleged drug use, does anyone really believe that Gawker somehow is out to get Rob Ford? And there are credible reports in today’s Toronto Sun – the newspaper almost single-handedly responsible for getting Ford election – that people close to Ford, including his former chief of staff, have urged him to go to rehab. So, no, this isn’t just the Toronto Star.
“I do not use crack cocaine…”
The obvious observation is that the use of the present tense means that he’s not actually denying the substantive allegation against him, that he used crack cocaine. Even Bill Clinton, a guy whose capacity for bullshitting is justly famous, didn’t have the balls to try to deny his affair with Monica Lewinsky by saying “I do not have sexual relations with that woman” (instead of the infamous, and ultimately untruthful, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman“). The use of the present tense would have been an obvious tip-off that Clinton did have sexual relations with Lewinsky. And Rob, I hate to break it to you, buddy, but you’re no Bill Clinton.
If Ford had said “I have never used crack cocaine”, then that would answer the allegation against him, and we’d have to decide whether we believe Rob Ford or a collection of Somali drug dealers (admittedly, not an easy choice, given Ford’s history of being “forgetful” with the truth – he’s a politician, what do you expect?). At least then he’d have answered the allegation, and people could make up their own minds. But, if all he says is that he does not use cocaine, then the allegation against him stands uncontested.
“…nor am I an addict of crack cocaine.”
How many degenerate drug/booze/gambling/whatever addicts come out and say “I am an addict”? Fuck, if you got a nickel for every addict who tells you “I’m not an addict”, you’d be rich. “I’m a social drinker”, “I just do it for fun”, “I can quit any time”. Those are the lies that every addict tells themself – right up until the moment when they hit rock bottom by selling their kids toys or doling out knee-knockers in a back alley to feed their addiction and the truth finally hits them (if it ever does).
Moreover, if he’s never used crack cocaine, then there’s no reason for him to go on and say that he’s not an addict. Hard to get addicted to something you’ve never used. You’d only say you’re not an addict if you’d actually used crack cocaine, but, like, not enough to become a junkie, right?
Between the use of the present tense in describing his crack use, and the denial that he’s an addict, I read the entire sentence as being an implicit admission that he HAS smoked crack. In this case, his silence speaks louder than his words. In the absence of a clear denial that’s he’s ever used crack, how else can a reasonable person interpret this statement?
“I cannot comment on a video that I have never seen or does not exist”
Ok, he can’t comment on a video that he’s never seen. But if he’s never smoked crack, then he should be able to say with absolute confidence that any video that purports to show him smoking crack must be false. I’ve never see a video of me smoking crack either, but if you told me you had one, I could tell you straight-off that it’s fake. He didn’t. Am I alone in wondering why not?
And then to claim that, maybe, the video doesn’t exist? What, are two veteran investigative reporters and the editor of Gawker lying about what they saw? Nice try, the video clearly exists.
Or, at least, the video clearly existed. By claiming that the video might not exist, Ford raises the disturbing possibility that it doesn’t exist anymore. Why does he believe it doesn’t exist? Did he have it destroyed? If the allegations against Ford are true, he would presumably know who took the video (it purportedly shows him smoking crack in their house), he would know how to reach them, and he would have one hell of a motive to get his hands on them. Gawker has apparently been having trouble contacting the intermediary who originally offered to sell it. Maybe the intermediary found a more interested buyer?
If the video has been destroyed since the allegations came out, Ford had better hope that he, or one of his supporters, had nothing to do with it (Any recent $200,000 withdrawals from his bank account? Does he have a new $200,000 iphone lying around?), because the only thing worse, much worse, that smoking crack and lying about it, is covering it up by destroying the evidence. Until I read that sentence in his statement, it hadn’t seriously occured to me that Ford might have sent someone off to buy and destroy the video, but by suggesting that the video doesn’t exist, Ford sure raised that possibility in my mind.
(As an aside, if Ford , or one his supporters, did pay $200,000 to a couple of drug dealers to destroy the video, they might want to keep in mind that professionals in the drug trade are not necessarily known for their high regard for contract law – business deals generally being enforced at the business end of a 9mm. Any bets on whether they might have kept a copy, as a form of annuity? If someone paid them off once, they might not be above coming back to the money train for more down the road.)
“It is most unfortunate, very unfortunate, that … I have been judged by the media without any evidence.”
Bullshit. The evidence is eyewitness accounts of two veteran investigative reporters and the editor of Gawker of the existence of a video that purports to show Rob Ford smoking crack.
Ok, that’s not great evidence – the witnesses may be wrong, the video may be fake – but for the last week that’s all we’ve had, except for non-denials from Ford’s lawyer and his brother. But this isn’t a criminal trial, this is the court of public opinion. There’s no presumption of innocence and the legal rules of evidence don’t apply. In the absence of any evidence in his defense – such as a statement from Ford that he’s never smoked crack and that the video is false – what choice do Torontonian have but to accept the truth of the allegation against him. Bad evidence against him beats no evidence in his favour. If Ford’s been judged by the public it’s because he hasn’t said anything in his defense.
“This past week has not been an easy one. It has taken a great toll on my family and my friends and the great people of Toronto.”
No kidding, and no thanks to you, you assclown. The past week would have been a lot easier for all concerned if you’d manned-up last week and given the “great people of Toronto” a statement that you’ve never smoked crack. Hell, if you’d popped-up and said you had smoked crack, but would get treatment and never do it again, that probably would have been easier. But no, you took the chicken-shit approach and hid from your constituents for a week in the hope that this would blow over. It hasn’t.
“For the past week, on the advice of my solicitor, I was advised not to say a word.”
Hell, this is almost the most damning part of the whole statement. Sure, having been silent for a week, Ford has to explain why he hasn’t said anything yet (a problem that could have been avoided by given a complete statement a week ago). But to say that he hasn’t denied allegations that he smoked crack on the advice of his lawyer? Really? Good lord, does the man have any idea how terrible that sounds? Are the people in his office a bunch of political neophytes and morons? He couldn’t come-up with some sob story about how he “didn’t want to dignify these sordid allegations with a response”? Any politician who confesses that his public statements are governed by his lawyer is in some serious shit.
More to the point, why is his lawyer telling him to clam-up? Am I alone in asking that question? If Ford has never smoked crack and his lawyer is telling him not to say that to his electorate, well, Ford needs a new lawyer (hint, try one whose business email address doesn’t end with “hotmail.com“). If true, what possible harm could making that statement cause? If true. On the other hand, if Ford has smoked crack (and, presumably broken several of our Canada’s drug laws in the process), and his lawyer is telling him to stay silent, then that’s probably good legal advice, but it means that Ford’s political career is over. Those are the only two possible conclusions we can draw from this statement, either (1) Ford is clean, but his lawyer is a complete fucking fool, or (2) Ford isn’t clean.
* * *
So there we have it, a line-by-line examination of the two paragraphs at the heart of what is quite possibly one of the most inept public statements in modern political history. No doubt future generations of political junkies will study this sordid episode as a case study in how not to manage a public relations disaster.
But the worst thing about today’s statement is that, more than a week after the allegation that he smoked crack was first made, we STILL don’t have a clear statement from Rob Ford to the effect that the allegation is not true. Today’s statement doesn’t deny that he’s ever smoked crack, or that he associates with degenerate drug dealers. He doesn’t state that whatever video the Star saw is fake. Ford’s statement reads and sounds like an amateurish attempt to address the allegations against him without actually denying their truth. Had this statement come out at 5:00 am last Friday morning, I might have chalked it up to having been done in a rush after a long night, and given the Ford camp the benefit of the doubt. Maybe. But they’ve had eight whole fucking days to come out with a statement that would have squarely addressed the allegations against him, and this is what they come up with?
This statement is as damning as a confession without the benefit of catharsis that a confession would bring. Had Ford confessed to smoking crack and told us that he was seeking help, well, the Rob Ford haters would still hate him – haters gonna hate – but at least he’d be entitled to the public’s sympathy, or at least pity. With this statement, though, all he deserves is our contempt.