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Sunday, August 14, 2011

@AntoniaZ, @SusannaKelley, @marcusbgee, and the Rob Ford ascendancy | #TOpoli

Wonderful thing, the Tweeter. Keeps things lively, and keeps you on your toes.

So apparently there's some question over what I wrote about the Globe's ideologically reliable urban affairs curmudgeon and his role in helping propel Mayor Stupid into the Chief Magistrate's office. Over at ontarionewswatch.com, Editor-in-Chief and Ontario Bureau Chief @SusannaKelley apparently takes issue with a tweet from @AntoniaZ regarding a post from me yesterday morning.

(Antonia already knows I worship the ground she walks upon. And for the moment, I'm going to give Ms. Kelley the benefit of a whole lot of doubt. She describes herself as a democratic cog and as a Leaf fan, so she must know from suffering.)

Just so we're clear, Marcus was quite open, and has been all along, in pointing out that Ford's numbers didn't make any sense, and I've never accused him of letting Ford get away with pulling facts and numbers out of his ass. Where I take issue with him, and with a lot of other civic-affairs writers, is in the way they helped perpetuate the bullshit narrative of the Pissed-Off Taxpayer. Thanks to them, and to the craven opportunism of some of the other mayoral candidates, the election wasn't about the numbers at all. It was about uninformed, visceral resentment.

The dominant narrative last fall was that Toronto was bankrupt, falling apart, awash in gravy, racked by wasteful spending, going to hell, left in a shambles by David Miller, and that things were so irredeemably awful that the only possible course was to bust everything up and reduce the institutions of governance and the bonds of community to rubble. It was an easy, cynical narrative that didn't require any thought, reflection, or consideration; it spoke directly to the lazy, lizard-brain, gut-reaction crowd whose intellectual engagement could be reduced to lapel buttons, sound bites and bumper stickers. We're reaping the results of that now.

In that context, I'd argue, number crunching and sober analysis didn't matter. The conversation was all about rage, backlash and resentment. Marcus wasn't alone in helping to enable that, but he certainly did his part. We can disagree about whether and to what extent the "rage" meme eclipsed questions about Ford's numbers, but that's different from saying Marcus or anyone else never called him on it.

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1 comment:

  1. i remember gee's enthusiasm for Ford. gee is an incoherent, inconsequential thinker.