Rob Ford at May’s interfaith debate. Photo by Christopher Drost/Torontoist.
So RobFordMayor.com is no more, blown away by a cease-and-desist letter. Nobody is going to miss it, first because most didn’t know about it until it was gone, but also because it sucked and wasn’t funny; if it were a stand-up comic it would have been a less funny version of Dane Cook. “Hey lookit me I’m Rob Ford! I’m fat and I like to eat lots of food! EAT! LOTS! OF FOOD! Oh god please laugh. Please.” Just one more barely heard cry for attention in the internet wilderness; you could get better gags by going to a “Yo’ Mama So Fat” list and just inserting Rob Ford’s name when you cut and paste. “Rob Ford so fat he whistles bass.” “Rob Ford so fat when he jog he sweat chicken grease.” “Rob Ford so fat Kyle Rae didn’t retire; Rob Ford ate him.” “Rob Ford so fat when he hold a press conference the media use Google Earth to take his picture.” That sort of thing. (You can read the complete archives of the site here.)
RobFordMayor.com by itself isn’t a story. But Rob Ford getting peeved and issuing a C&D to kill the site? That’s worth talking about, because it’s an insight into the inner workings of Rob Ford. “Politician throws a hissy fit” is always interesting, of course, but in this case the added bonus of hands-a-fluttering makes it even more so.
“Some of the hits were pretty personal, and it was getting out of hand.” That’s what Ford’s spokesperson said. To which the only appropriate response is: “…so what?” It was a bunch of lame fat jokes. Most people would just ignore this; after all, pretty much everybody else was. (It’s not like RobFordMayor.com was the talk of the town.) But Rob Ford can’t shrug it off and act like a grown-up who’s realized that being in public office means that the public will sometimes mock you. Apparently, that’s not who Rob Ford is.
This comes as a surprise to nobody. Ford’s entire public career can be condensed down to thirty seconds of him shouting at people angrily, whether it’s screaming at somebody at a hockey game, yelling at Sarah Thomson during a debate, or bellowing out his latest tantrum in city council. Ford’s history of ethnic slurs and bigoted behaviour is just the icing on a loud, arrogant cake: his public persona is the classic bully, and like most bullies, it seems he can’t take it as well as he can dish it out.
Does Ford understand that if he actually gets elected as mayor, this sort of thing will only get worse? There are at least two Facebook groups devoted specifically to hating David Miller. Mel Lastman is quite possibly going to be a punchline for the rest of his life specifically because of things he did as mayor. Rob Ford has spent his entire public career bashing whoever was in charge; if he thinks he can just turn around once he’s in the big seat, blame city council for everything that goes wrong, and avoid mockery and ridicule, he’s going to be unpleasantly surprised.
You can’t fall back on a good record of constituent service (which has always been Ford’s primary—some would say only—strength as a public servant) once you’re mayor, because being mayor is a harder job; every single person in the city is your constituent. (Fun game: calculate the odds that Mayor Rob Ford would make the now-traditional mayoral appearance in the Pride Parade. Be sure to show your work.) Even the Toronto Sun will, at some point, demand results, and Ford has spent his entire career not getting results on the basis of ideological purity; he’s famously bad at achieving anything productive in city council.
And honestly, “unpleasantly surprised” will probably be the sort of descriptive phrase that a Rob Ford mayoralty would frequently require. Peter Worthington, in his Sun column last week, explained that he was planning to vote for Ford because “you don’t need a rocket scientist for mayor.” When your own supporters are admitting you’re kind of stupid, you have an image problem that shutting down a thousand satirical websites won’t fix.