“It says right across your forehead, integrity for sale,” isn’t just a catchy Nickelback lyric. It’s a reflection of our times. It’s also a hard cultural truth we are constantly being forced to face by those who, whether intentionally or not, take the public stage hostage and use it as a platform to show the world just how despicable and stupid a human being can be.
For us Canadians, though, this cultural pain was largely, at least ostensibly, felt vicariously through our neighbors to the south: those living large, gun-slinging, fast-food, Walmart Americans with their bizarre, over-the-top celebrity worship and cartoon politics.
But then the Mayor of Toronto, Rob Ford, and his long suffering wife, Renata, came along like a counter-superhero with a cunnilingus-receiving sidekick to ruin the day and obliterate any smugness Canadians might have been harbouring regarding their superior level-headedness and decorum.
He is Rob Ford! The Apologizing Man! His special anti-power is his insincere-sincere apology…sincerely.
Not even a cancer diagnosis can stop this man from apologizing.
It would in fact appear that he never leaves his house without an apology in his right pocket and up until relatively recently a crack pipe in his left.
The crack pipe might have been exchanged for a malignant lard tumor, but apparently he still keeps his Special-Shield-Apology-Badge with him at all times for those inevitable occasions when he still needs to publicly apologize.
In the past, he has found this badge of dishonor useful in situations where he has been caught in drunken stupors while jay-walking or getting high in the midst of plotting the demise of one of his many perceived enemies.
When he’s caught doing or saying something he really should not – which he always gets caught – he whips out his badge with an unsteady hand, staggers to his knees and offers up an apology after the fact, the way a sinner prays for forgiveness while committing his sins. The difference is that unlike the praying hypocrite, Rob, the Apologizing Hypocrite, falls to his knees not out of genuine contrition, but because he is weak in more ways than one and letting empty words drool out of his mouth requires a lot less effort than being accountable.
Basically, this privileged, undisciplined goofball and his equally ridiculous wife have made deals with the devil – albeit a Looney Tunes Tasmanian one – in which integrity has been exchanged for addiction and all the corruption and soul-erosion that goes hand-in-hand with the kind of self-indulgent substance and food abuse Rob Ford enjoys.
No one can know for sure if Robby Boy, whose denial is so great he refers to himself in the third person because he cannot bear to accept the buffoon that he is in first person, ever had any integrity to begin with. But if he did, he lost it along with the definition of “sincerely”.
He has made so many public apologies using the word “sincerely”, when clearly he is NOT sincere, that one has to wonder if he has dyslexia in addition to his other glaring issues.
It is as if he believes the word “sorry” literally works like a delete key and that its mere utterance completely erases deplorable behavior, as if the behavior never happened in the first place. He has convinced himself of this so thoroughly that he actually becomes self-righteously offended when asked by reporters and others to explain himself.
He has never understood what the problem is. As far as he’s concerned, he might be a man who likes to have a good time outside of his job, but so what! Who doesn’t? And sure, he’s “a little rough around the edges”, but he’s also a man who “calls a spade a spade” and up until his unfortunate liposarcoma diagnosis never missed a day of work.
Rob also likes to point out, all apologizing aside, that he really is a good guy who, for example, NEVER took advantage of the free zoo pass to which he was entitled as a council member and NOT just because he's a baboon fearful of zoos. He is quite proud of all his self-sacrifice, as any self-congratulating baboon would be.
He furthermore thought it was a DISGRACE that other counsellors, who don't even resemble zoo animals, would waste taxpayer dollars by taking advantage of ANY of the varied perks allowed them. Rob Ford, for one, would NEVER rip off the electorate in such a blatantly unfair way.
While other counsellors were living large with free metro passes, for instance, Mayor Ford resigned himself to blasting around in his own gas-guzzling Cadillac Escalade using fuel he paid for himself. He furthermore apologized REPEATEDLY for many, many things and continues to do so. What’s the problem? He’s sorry. There is nothing more he can do.
Watching any one of Rob Ford’s apologies, absurd rationalizations and deep affronts to the social order is the funniest thing to ever happen to Canadian news. He will be missed.