On Monday, I was watching the news when they cut in and said, "We now go to the press conference Rob Ford is giving in Toronto."
Honestly, I didn't care all that much what Rob Ford had to say. I decided to stick around, though, because I was curious to hear if he would be saying one particular word.
While waiting for the word, I must say that as far as mea culpas go, the Toronto mayor's was extremely good -- albeit with an asterisk -- and I consider myself an aficionado on apologies, running neck-and-neck with Nell Minow as world class analysts of them. He acknowledged errors repeatedly, apologized to specific groups of people and never once qualified his apologies with "if I offended anyone," acknowledged that he had a serious problem, was humble, pointedly said he was not asking for forgiveness, admitted having been in self-denial, thanked the doctors at his rehab clinic for saving his life, and made clear that dealing with his addictions was something he would have to do for the rest of his life -- and more.
It was, actually, quite good. The asterisk is because I kept waiting for that one word. And it never came.
That word was, "Accordingly..."
I was waiting to hear Rob Ford say, after all that opening up about his addiction, problems and near loss of his life that, "Accordingly, because this is a lifetime effort I will have to make to get my life in order and keep it that way, I will be stepping down as mayor of Toronto."
But he never said that. In fact, he's hoping the voters of Toronto will continue to support him in his run for re-election.
Rob Ford has every right to run for re-election. And everyone deserves that proverbial "Second Chance." But if someone had as deep an addiction problem as Rob Ford himself acknowledges he did to drugs and alcohol and that to combat that it's something he'll have to fight every day for the rest of his life -- one would think that such an effort would entail, at the very least at the start, not putting yourself in stressful situations where you might be tempted to grab your old crutch of drugs and alcohol. And one would think that...well, being mayor of the largest city in Canada, responsible for the lives of over 2,5 million residents, where almost every waking moment of your life has something critical in it, would be one of the most non-stop stressful situations you could put yourself into. So, if you were really truly sorry about embarrassing others and hurting others and nearly killing yourself and knowing you had to work every day for the rest of your life to get over this, you'd think you would tell people that being mayor or Toronto just isn't the thing for you right now. But maybe soon, when you feel your solidly back on your feet, you might hope they'll welcome you back.
I should note, too, that this isn't just about asking for a Second Chance. That humiliating thing Rob Ford kept doing which he was apologizing to everyone for -- it was taking cocaine and alcohol abuse. I'm guessing that in Canada, having a cocaine and alcohol addiction not only isn't considered a good thing for anyone, let alone the mayor, but the cocaine part is probably really quite illegal. That Rob Ford didn't go to prison should be considered his second biggest blessing, right after "I'm alive, I'm alive!!" To go to rehab for two months, say that he's doing okay now and then add "Vote for me" raises at least a few questions in my mind how deeply Rob Ford takes his recovery program.
Let's put it another way --
If a corporation's accountant went into rehab for cocaine and alcohol addiction, how many businesses do you think would hire him back to be in charge of their finances the day after he got out? If ever? They'd probably wish him well, they might even offer him a low-level job as a show of support -- but "here's the new number to the safe"? I think not. For all I know, not working in finance for five years might even be part of the plea bargain he'd have had to make to keep him out of jail.
Accordingly...much as I liked the bulk of what Rob Ford had to say in his mea culpa to the cameras -- and I really did -- that one little hiccup was so important that I can't give it a passing grade. Because while I believe the apology, I don't believe he means it about the recovery. That doesn't mean he won't recover -- I hope he does. Just that he's trying to take a shortcut at the expense of 2.5 million people, all for his own self-gratification.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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