Vision Quest VI

October 21, 2010

It’s Thursday. So you know what that means. Time for another Vision Quest. Toda—

But wait, you’re all saying, probably. Vision Quest usually happens on Friday. What’s with the Thursday Vision Quest? It’s throwing my equilibrium all off.

Well, the thing is, with just 4 days before election day, we needed to set aside 3 for our mayoral endorsements. So, we decided to push the last of our Vision Quests ahead by a day. Hopefully, this won’t be a constant source of disappointment to those who then keep thinking it’s Friday, only to have the fact that it’s actually just Thursday constantly thrown in their faces.

And to be clear: this in no way should be viewed as an official endorsement. This is not an endorsement. This is not an endorsement. Nope, not an endorsement.

Vision Quest VI (Thursday and final edition): George Smitherman!

Nicknamed Furious George, but for those of us with more leftish hues, what Smitherman should be better known as is, Infuriating George. Smart, thorough and tirelessly hardworking, he should’ve been everyone’s (who wasn’t backing Rob Ford) easy 2nd choice for mayor. Yet, it’s as if he made it deliberately impossible for us to take to him, seemingly intent to alienate and provoke us, almost as if it were part of a… diabolical plan.

The rube in me, who treats everything on the level, no subtext, no ulterior motives, saw the unfolding Smitherman campaign as a bumbling, stumbling mess. Determined almost, to repeat the exact same mistakes as his former boss, Barbara Hall, in the 2003 election, going from frontrunner to a distant 3rd place. He practically disappeared there during the spring and summer months, threatening to become another big name bust.

But then it clicked into place as soon as it was announced that, in fact, Rob Ford had become the candidate to beat. In mid-September, his victory was pronounced as pretty well inevitable, his almost 25 point lead was viewed as insurmountable. A collective OMG!!! arose from the general populace. What are we going to do?! This can’t happen. We need to elect Anybody But Ford!!

Cue the sounds of horses approaching from the distance, the arrival of the cavalry. Fear not, good people of Toronto, your white knight riding to the rescue. George Smitherman is here to drive the evil Rob Ford gang back to the wilds of Etobicoke. Our hero!

Pure brilliance, if a little disturbingly calculating. A truly post-modern campaign that smartly up-ended the big name, early front runner dilemma. Tactics trumping substantive thinking and the need for any sort of comprehensive complete policy platform. In 2010, that may be all that’s necessary to become mayor.

Had Smitherman Our Saviour then arrived and stood up vigorously to the radical, right wing retardedness of Rob Ford, it may’ve been a done deal. Instead, George lurched right, aping much of the Ford anti-City Hall populism and firmly embracing the modus operandi of another former boss of his, Dalton McGuinty, who has built his entire political career on the notion of being only slight less bad than the Mike Harris era Conservative government. Vote for me because I’m not as bad as that guy.

George Smitherman. Just another unprincipled, scheming politician with a hollow core. But hey. At least he’s not as bad as that other guy.

And as the campaign winds down, he then has the balls to try and castigate those who haven’t fallen into line behind him, portraying them as the villains if he comes up short and Rob Ford wins this thing. Holding a gun to the city’s head, his endgame now consists of, vote for me or this guy gets it.

Yeah, that’s the guy I want as my next mayor.

So repellant has Smitherman’s tactics become that I refuse to cut him any slack or give him the benefit of doubt on anything. We were rightly reprimanded by a commenter on our post a couple days ago who pointed out that we misrepresented Smitherman’s rejection of safe injection sites. His position on the issue is much more “nuanced”. Fair enough. But at this point, we cannot grant him anything resembling nuance. We can only see the darkness.

To us George Smitherman is simply a political hit man, dispatched from Queen’s Park to quell a restive and vocally frustrated city that has become noisy in its displeasure with the contemptuous disregard and mismanagement at the hands of its provincial overlords. He doesn’t want to lead Toronto. He wants to keep it in its place. In that, he is no better than Rob Ford.

The company he keeps is Tory blue, through and through, including Harrisites, many of whom wouldn’t be considered friends of Toronto. Ralph Lean, best known in political circles as a David Miller band wagon jumper whose very public break with the mayor last fall helped grease the way to the mayor’s decision not to seek re-election and opened the floodgates of anti-City Hall sentiment that Smitherman slid in on, is a key part of his fund raising arm. And the fact that Barbara Hall has babysat George’s son does little to alleviate our growing mistrust of Smitherman’s intentions.

He wants us to merely settle on him as our next mayor. It could be worse, he tells us. Rob Ford. Yes, he’s right. It could be worse. On the other hand, it might not be. There’s much of the devil you know at work right now. And if George Smitherman can’t win this thing based on his own merits, well, maybe he just doesn’t deserve it. For 10 months or so, all we’ve asked is that he prove to us that he does. Four days before election day, George Smitherman has come up woefully empty on that account.

angrily submitted by Cityslikr