Men in disgrace; Ford and Sterling
Two men were brought down this past week by being overly candid in recorded conversations. I can't say I sympathize all that much with either Rob Ford or Donald Sterling but this is a pretty creepy world we're living in now where you never really know if if you are being recorded even in your own home or in a conversation with strangers in a dive across the street from your mother's house.
Beyond the recorded and leaked conversations the cases are very different. I think Kareem Abdul Jabbar has some of the best thinking on Sterling. You can read his Time Magazine column here in which he points out that the Clippers owner had a known and lengthy record for being a racist and yet even the NAACP was willing to overlook it.
"He was discriminating against black and Hispanic families for years", he writes, "preventing them from getting housing. It was public record. We did nothing. Suddenly he says he doesn’t want his girlfriend posing with Magic Johnson on Instagram and we bring out the torches and rope."
Abdul Jabbar was fantastic on Bill Maher's show Friday night. Maher asked if Sterling should get a pass because he's 80 years old. “I don’t think we can use that as an excuse,” Abdul-Jabbar said. “His 80 years include the 1936 Olympics, Joe Lewis versus [Max] Schmeling, Jackie Robinson, the integration of the NBA.”
And then there's Rob Ford. It wasn't just the recording. It was the investigative report about his public behavior in The Star, the Globe’s crack revelations, a new story Friday about how he threatened to fire guards who reported on his drunken antics. Most important in all this is that it simply confirms a pattern of lewd, sexist, angry and violent behavior. Drunk or sober it seems, Rob Ford isn't a particularly nice or compassionate man.
So does he deserve our sympathy? Marcus Gee writes today in the Globe that he doesn't. "It is hard to escape the conclusion that when he says those awful things, it isn’t the booze and the drugs talking. It is the real Rob Ford talking." Gee goes on to document the pattern of Ford's slurs and actions against gays, ethnic minorities, women and city workers.
Here's a question though and I’ll ask it of former Attorney General and recovering alcoholic Michael Bryant when he joins us Monday morning: If Rob Ford does genuinely admit he has a problem and beat it, is everything he has said and done really "in the past"? Are the daily reports of more and more awful things said and done merely a few more dots in the portrait of a man who was out of control but deserves a clean slate as he puts his life back together?
In terms of where Ford is currently in his recovery I would defer to Jeremy Taggart and Ed Keenen who participated in a kick ass Round Two on Thursday. Both of them have been there. Both of them struggled with their recovery. And both insist Ford’s “I’ll go to rehab” move is just another bargaining tactic for a man who just wants to hold on to what he has.
You can follow Keenan and Taggart on Twitter at @thekeenanwire @taggart7