Everyone Knows Toronto's Mayor Is a Drunken Lout, but the Real Scandal Is That He Smoked Crack Once?

Which is more troubling: that
Toronto’s mayor has smoked crack on at least one occasion (as he

today) or that he attempts to mitigate that
transgression by saying he has a habit of getting so drunk that he
does stuff like that without remembering it? I’d say the latter
should be more worrisome to any Torontonian whose mind is not
clouded by arbitrary pharmacological prejudices. Here is what Mayor
Rob Ford told reporters today, after months of questions prompted
by a video that seemed to show him sucking on a crack pipe:

You asked me a question back in May, and you can repeat that
question. Yes, I have smoked crack cocaine. But no, do I—am I
an addict? No. Have I tried it? Probably, in one of my drunken
stupors, probably approximately about a year ago….

I wasn’t lying—you didn’t ask the correct questions. No, I’m not
an addict, and no, I do not do drugs. I made mistakes in the past,
and all I can do is apologize, but it is what it is….

I don’t even remember. Some of the stuff that you guys have seen
me—the state I’ve been in? It’s a problem.

No kidding. The New York Times notes
“several public occasions during which Mr. Ford acted boorishly and
appeared to be impaired.” Now he is saying—in his own defense, mind
you—that he frequently stumbles around town in a stupor, so what do
you expect? For all we know, smoking crack is the least of what
demon rum has driven him to.

As exercises in blame shifting go, I prefer Marion Barry’s

, upon being caught on tape in a similarly
embarrassing situation, that the “bitch set me up,” which had the
virtue of being true. By contrast, Ford says he “probably” did what
he is shown doing on video and furthermore that it was “about a
year ago,” but he can’t really be sure, what with all the
out-of-control drinking. He combines that wishy-washy confession
with a Clintonian claim that he spoke the literal truth when he
misled the public. At least Ford did not say that he lit the pipe
but did not inhale.

Still, despite crack’s fearsome reputation as a drug that
inevitably enslaves its users, there is littlle reason to doubt
Ford’s assertion that his not an crack addict. As I noted yesterday
in my Forbes column,
the vast majority of crack users do not become heavy consumers, and
those who do typically cut back or stop on their own. According to
the National
Survey on Drug Use and Health
, just 3 percent of Americans who
have tried this supposedly irresistible and inescapable drug have
smoked it in the last month. Furthermore, research by Columbia
neuropsychopharmacologist Carl Hart shows that even heavy users can
moderate their behavior in response to incentives—something Ford
evidently has trouble doing with respect to alcohol. If a drug is
interfering with Ford’s ability to do his job, that drug does not
seem to be crack.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/05/everyone-knows-torontos-mayor-is-a-drunk

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