Paul Greenberg

Maybe one of those fabled Canadian hockey teams could lend Toronto's city council some of its crash helmets, huge gloves and a bunch of padded paraphernalia in general. Plus a hockey stick with a sharp, painful angle. Like the one in that infamous phony Climate Change chart. Just for purposes of self-defense. At least when Rob Ford is around.

Gentleman that he is, Mayor Ford was quick to pick the lady up off the floor after he'd so unceremoniously deposited her there. The way a bad bowler might right one of the smaller bowling pins after a bad carom shot. "I picked her up," the mayor said in his supposed defense. Now we know what passes for chivalry in those frozen climes.

Naturally the mayor had an alibi (don't they always?) and it was delivered in proper police-report English. He was just rushing to the defense of his brother in the back of the room, he explained, and couldn't be stopped by a minor speed bump like poor Ms. McConnell. "I ran around (and ran the lady into the ground) because I thought my brother was getting into an altercation." Ah, yes, an altercation -- the current latinate euphemism for an old-fashioned, honest, straightforward fist fight.

These days a plague of euphemism seems to have overwhelmed politics both north and south of the Canadian border. The lowest, most unacceptable, disgraceful conduct on the part of an elected official may now by described as "inappropriate," an adjective that seems to cover an ever wider and lower multitude of sins in our oh-so-liberated society.

Not since our own former big lug of a president offered his unforgettable apologia-and-alibi ("I did not have sexual relations with that woman....") has a cover story like Rob Ford's been so unconvincing. Not to mention unchivalrous.

It will not surprise contemporary readers to learn that Toronto's mayor and his brother are planning to start their own television show. The Ford show (tentatively titled "Ford Nation") would fit right in with the current rage for reality TV shows, which aren't always easy to distinguish from so-called reality itself.

You can't make these things up. Unless you're Finley Peter Dunne at the turn of another century or covering some of the more colorful elections south of the Mason-Dixon Line. Who would have thought that Southern politics would look almost serious one day compared to those in Toronto, Canada? The world's turned upside down, I tell you.


Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.