2013 was a vintage year for malakatude of all types. I considered going with a Tea Party Republican but there were too many to choose from so I’m posting a link to a piece in Salon about GOP rebranding fails. I also considered doing a year in malakatude post but Dave Barry has that coveredeven if he doesn’t use the M word.
There was one towering figure in the annals of 2013 malakatude. A guy so schmucky and creepy that he dominated TPM’s Golden Duke Awards.I am, of course referring to the one, the only TORONTO MAYOR ROB FUCKING FORD. Ford is not only malaka of the year, he’s a stereotype shattering motherfucker. Canadians have a well-deserved reputation for niceness and political moderation but Rob Ford has shown us that they can be just as awful as Americans.There was a great piece in the Guardian by Matthew Hays that views Mayor Malaka as a trailblazer:
Pope Francis might be Time magazine’s person of the year, but for Canada, there can be little doubt who our main noisemaker has been. Toronto’s mayor, Rob Ford, with his acknowledgments of crack smoking, drunken stupors, driving while under the influence and socialising with drug dealers, has made Canadians cringe in an unexpected way.
Consider that Canadians view much of the world through American media, which places us in a very odd, existential state: we experience much of the world from the perspective of a country that barely knows we exist. When Canada does make the news, either as a Simpsons one-liner or a news story about some extreme weather, it sets off a collective frisson – a brief but thrilling sensation of being acknowledged.
Ford’s ongoing fame is that much more agonising, given its epic scope. He has become one of the most famous Canadians in the world, attaining the kind of recognition usually only granted to one of our citizens once they have left the country, like William Shatner, Celine Dion or Justin Bieber.
But Ford’s notoriety, which now includes the opening sketch for Saturday Night Live and a New Yorker cartoon, is horrifying to Canadians for another reason. It’s the terror of recognition. Sadly but truly, Ford has become the very personification of what Canada has become.
This is difficult news for non-Canadians to digest. After all, many, if not most of you got your impression of Canada through Michael Moore’s hugely popular documentaries: we are kind, gentle people who don’t lock our doors at night, believe in universal healthcare and gun control and stayed out of the invasion of Iraq.
As some critics have pointed out, our prime minister, Stephen Harper, has remained remarkably silent on the Ford debacle. Harper needs the support of much of Ford’s pugnacious voter base, many of who remain staunchly loyal despite the snowballing scandals and gaffes. (Last week, in a TV interview that can only be described as ludicrously sycophantic, ex-con Conrad Black spoke to Ford, who insinuated that a reporter covering his story might be a paedophile. The reporter has served him with a libel notice.) While different in their public demeanour, Harper and Ford are flip sides of the same hard-right coin.
And that makes the image of Ford all the more unsettling. What was once Canada the cool, the country a 1991 Economist cover story called the “post-modern nation-state”, has now devolved into a rightwing hellhole. Ford was elected in 2010, one year prior to Canada’s Conservative party winning a majority in the national parliament. Since then, Harper, a man who once referred to global warming as “a socialist conspiracy”, has pushed Canada’s policies sharply to the right.
That was a longer quote than I usualy post, but it points out the new Canadian reality wherein a crack smoking, drunken lout who assaults his colleagues can survive in public office. I know, I know: who am I to talk: Diaper Dave Vitter is one of my United States Senators. But Bitter Vitter apologized and kept his head down instead of partying like Chris Farley on a non-stop bender.Viiter is a mere common garden variety horndog whereas Ford has style. It’s a crude and obnoxious form of style but he’s got style nonetheless. He’d fit right in at the DKE frat house at Tulane…
I was one of the first people to compare Rob Ford to Chris Farley, but there’s another comedy legend he reminds me of as well. Ford is all id, which means that the greatest Stooge of them all, Curly Howard would have been superb casting as the wackadoodle Mayor. It’s easy to imagine Ford dancing the Curly shuffle, after all:
Finally, as a New Orleanian, I’d like to thank Rob Ford for being a bigger clown than former Mayor Clarence Ray Nagin. It took a lot of heat off my city when Ford burst upon the scene with a hearty nyuk, nyuk, nyuk that exceeded C Ray’s most egregious malakatude. And that is why Rob Ford is malaka of the year.