We’ve Seen This Rob Ford Video Before

We’ve seen this video before. Oh, not this video in particular, I guess, but we know exactly what happens once the YouTube clip finishes. There’s Doug Ford’s unhelpful yet staunch denials (disproven before his words had stopped rattling off the walls of Toronto City Hall), the hours of amateur analysis to discern any and all possible details from the video itself, the eventual confession from Rob Ford that yes, the video is genuine, and the ensuing tut-tutting about what a terrible example the mayor is setting.

And then there’s the stuff that would otherwise be career-endingly terrible but is, for Ford, just stuff that happens on days that end in Y. Yup, he lied to the entire city, again. (The Toronto Sun, not for the first time, is calling for Ford to resign. They’re not alone this morning, but they will have as much luck this time as all the others.) Unquestionably sadder is the fact that Ford, who only two months ago swore he’d given up drinking for good, acknowledges he was drunk Monday night.

None of this really puts me in the mood for cheap point-scoring, so when I say this is what you get when your family’s medical advice amounts to lose some weight and keep the drinking at home, it’s out of a real sadness that an addict has to go through a relapse in front of a global audience, in part because his family is of no use whatsoever.

We’ve seen this video before, after all, and we know that when it comes to things like self-control and discipline, Ford has a record, in many senses of the word. He has since before he was elected mayor. And yet, more people than I can count have, in the last two weeks, said some version of the following to me: “If he can keep the weight off and stay off the booze, he could win re-election.”

There is no reason to believe any part of that sentence is accurate: he’s tried and failed to keep the weight off before, he’s demonstrated no desire or even ability to understand the nature of his addiction—making a relapse a near-certainty—and even if neither of those were true, the voters of Toronto soured on Rob Ford long before the crack video, or the drunk-on-the-Danforth video, or the roid-rage-obscenity-screaming video, or the most recent Jamaican-insulting-the-police-chief video.

(We should linger for a moment on the fact that Rob Ford wasn’t just insulting Chief Bill Blair, but complaining about the expense of having been the subject of police surveillance for five months and not charged with anything. That, stunningly, seems to be the lesson Ford took from 2013: Blair and his officers are schmucks, because they didn’t find enough to prosecute.)

Bizarrely, at this point the crack video will actually be anticlimactic when it finally makes it into daylight. It can only be a bookend, just one extreme (we hope) of a man whose episodes seem to all be caught on video. If it happens before election day, we’ll go through the same cycle we have before: confirming its veracity, debating its implications, and wondering what it will take to shake Ford’s hard core supporters.

Because this isn’t going to stop. Ford shows no sign of taking the only steps that could actually help him recover (like resigning, for one), and nobody that he listens to is going to force the issue. So he, and we, are stuck here, forced to watch the whole thing play out over, and over, and over.

We have seen this video before.