The Only Thing Worse Than the Toronto Mayor’s Crack Habit? His Ties.

We didn’t even need Rob Ford’s behavior to know he was unfit for office. His neckwear said it all.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford Toronto Mayor Rob Ford waks in City Hall after City Council stripped him of some management powers on November 15, 2013 in Toronto, Canada .The council voted to strip the embattled Ford striped him of striped him of authority during emergency situations and the ability to hire and fire the deputy mayor and appoint members of the executive committee.
National Journal
Marin Cogan
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Marin Cogan
Nov. 19, 2013, 8 a.m.

(Car­los Osorio/Toronto Star via Getty Im­ages)On Monday, the Toronto City Coun­cil de­bated wheth­er to strip May­or Rob Ford of more of his powers, ce­ment­ing his po­s­i­tion as North Amer­ica’s most em­bar­rass­ing may­or but not, most likely, bring­ing his scan­dal-rid­den polit­ic­al woes to an end. The rev­el­a­tions of his mis­con­duct over the last year, which in­clude smoking crack co­caine, drunk­en tirades, and al­leg­a­tions of sexu­al har­ass­ment, are shock­ing, but they should not be sur­pris­ing — least of all to the people of Toronto. The evid­ence that Ford was not fit for the of­fice he cur­rently in­hab­its was there all along, and not just in his early pub­lic-drunk­en­ness ar­rests. It has been ob­vi­ous since the mo­ment Ford chose ec­cent­ric sports com­ment­at­or Don Cherry to place the city’s gaudy chain of of­fice around his neck. It is vis­ible in what he chooses to wear in of­fice that he doesn’t re­spect it. (Screen­shot) (Screen­shot)

From the start, there have been count­less signs that Ford was more com­fort­able on the foot­ball field (where he coached stu­dents un­til be­ing let go by the school board earli­er this year) than the con­ser­vat­ive world of polit­ics. There is his pre­dilec­tion for Toronto team jer­seys and sports at­tire; his will­ing­ness to be pho­to­graphed in a panama hat. But most not­able are his ties, which run the spec­trum from really ugly to out­rageously ugly. There are the hor­rible pat­tern prints, like the NFL logo he wore to a press con­fer­ence con­fess­ing he’d smoked crack. Or the foot­ball pat­tern he donned while apo­lo­giz­ing for a pro­fan­ity-laced re­sponse to al­leg­a­tions he’d made sexu­al re­marks to a fe­male col­league. Or the smi­ley-face pat­tern he wore to a City Coun­cil meet­ing in the midst of the scan­dal. Then there are the more routine bad ties: thick knot­ted silk with gar­ish pat­terns that evoke a mid-1980s car deal­er, one who most likely uses co­caine.

Politi­cians are not ex­pec­ted to be par­agons of fash­ion. Most of them dress bor­ingly, if not badly. But it is un­deni­able that at­tire can be a care­fully man­aged as­pect of a politi­cian’s ar­sen­al — that pro­jects in­ten­tion­al and some­times un­in­ten­tion­al mes­sages. Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton re­claimed her once-pil­lor­ied pant­suits as a hall­mark of her tire­less pro­fes­sion­al­ism. Dick Cheney’s choice of a parka at a 2005 com­mem­or­a­tion of the lib­er­a­tion of Aus­chwitz sent mes­sages about the vice pres­id­ent’s stance abroad he couldn’t have wanted. Ford’s de­cision to con­tin­ue wear­ing ri­dicu­lous cloth­ing dur­ing the biggest scan­dal of his polit­ic­al ca­reer has ad­ded an ex­tra dose of sur­real­ism to the already strange saga. Dur­ing the press con­fer­ence with the foot­ball print tie, his wife stood, de­jec­ted-look­ing, by his side.

It’s not dif­fi­cult to ima­gine that she is able to ask him the ques­tions we all want an­swers to. In­clud­ing the fol­low­ing: If you were go­ing to try to get away, un­detec­ted, with be­hav­ing like such a clown in of­fice, why not try a little harder not to dress like one?

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