A cautionary tale is unfolding in the city of Toronto.Yesterday, for the second time in recent memory, Toronto City Council told Mayor Rob Ford to take a walk down to the bottom of John Street and jump in the lake. Ford's story is about more than his obsession with subways. It's about a man who suffers from the delusion that, because he possesses what Teddy Roosevelt called a "bully pulpit," he also has the right to be a political bully.
That delusion is underscored by the fact that the man who vowed to cut taxes with a vengeance was willing to impose a tax increase to get his subways.The irony is as rich as the proclamation of the long dead despot in Shelley's poem: "Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Toronto's library workers have just gone on strike. The city's inside workers are now poised to walk out, too. But Ford is in no mood to compromise, either with council or the city's work force. Like Ozymandias, he expects all to bow before him.
Ford recently -- to great fanfare -- went on a crash diet. At last report his weight loss had stalled. Now, everything else at city hall is beginning to crash. There are obvious lessons for other politicians here. One is that, when "we the people" get organized, all hell can break loose. It will be interesting to see who is paying attention.