When Heather Mallick agreed to write for the Toronto Star, the editorial board of that newspaper must have had one thing to say to her:
"Welcome home, Heather. Welcome home."
It would only be a matter of time before the Star would gleefully provide a willing forum for Mallick's famed political invective -- the one that eventually earned her a very short leash at the CBC.
Then, it was a disgusting hit-piece on US Vice Presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
In that tirade, she compared Palin to a pornstar, denigrated her family, and in the depths of feverish lunacy, suggested that Palin isn't even actually a woman.
It's in the spirit of such invective that Mallick has approached the ongoing election campaign to decide who will be the next mayor of Toronto. With polls suggesting that conservative candidate Rob Ford has pulled ahead of his competition, the Toronto Star has gone into full-blown panic mode.
It isn't a pretty sight.
In a column entitled "Rob Ford as Mayor? Are We Nuts?" Mallick doesn't provide any real logical reason why anyone in Toronto shouldn't want Ford as their mayor. Instead, she tries to needle long-simmering feelings of resentment against, of all things, gym teachers into a full anti-conservative boil:
"I have a degree of sympathy for Ford. We all knew him in high school. He was our gym teacher, the kind who laughed when the slender shy boys got their hair entangled in the trampoline netting."Mallick being Mallick, that naturally isn't the full extent of the mud directed in Ford's direction. Mallick also pens the following:
"-He is what he is and, unlike most people, makes no attempt to conceal it. What I doubt is that he is like you. Have the police been called to your home to resolve a dispute with your loved one? Do you have a mug shot?Mallick doesn't elaborate very far on either one of these two issues. There may well be good reason for this. Judging from this article by Linda Diebel -- who seems to have been pulled off her national affairs beat to help bolster the paper's anti-Ford efforts -- the official editorial line at the Toronto Star currently seems to be that they'll happily spread innuendo about Ford, but not make any concrete accusations:
-Voters allegedly like candidates with whom they could happily sit down and have a beer, as was said about Bush. But you couldn’t drink with Bush. He was an alcoholic who no longer drank. And you wouldn’t drink with Ford because he gets angry rather than amiable as, in just one instance, some people in a neighbouring box at the Air Canada Centre discovered in 2006."
"And that thing with his wife?In fact, it eems to be one individual -- city councillor Kyle Rae -- who is publicly pusihing the "buffoon" angle.
'Nothing happened. My wife got mad at me. She made an allegation that wasn’t true and the charges never even got to court ... I’ve never laid a hand on a woman in my life. Rule No. 1 in the Ford family: You never touch a woman.'
Other incidents seem muddier.
Did he tell a couple at the Air Canada Centre that the wife should 'go to Iran and get raped and shot?' He says he didn’t, but doesn’t clarify. In a letter to city hall, they claimed he did. He apologized.
'That was just stupidity. I feel terrible about it. My wife and I had a little bit too much to drink ... I made a mistake that will never happen again.'"
Which is actually rather ironic. After all, it's Mallick herself who has earned herself a reputation as a very public buffoon. And it's in vein of realizations like this that the following pair of passages become actually rather comical:
"I am wary of the political truism that voters prefer candidates who resemble them. If a candidate resembles me, he’s a bookworm racked with emotion. I wouldn’t vote for me. Run away!Ironically, it's Mallick's reputation that establishes her as a buffoon and a bully. Even according to the reputation she'd like to think she has, the emotions Mallick is "racked" with have so often proven to be extremely ugly ones.
...Why should a politician’s notional resemblance to you recommend his candidacy? If you suspect that people find you buffoonish and a bit of a bully, would voting for your clone make it better to be you?"
All of this is, of course, the public face of the Toronto Star's anti-Ford efforts.
Behind the scenes the Star has been editing Wiklpedia entries about the candidate and then attempting to disavow any responsibility.
So the question remains: what's the matter with Heather Mallick? A lot of things.
But those things also tend to be wrong with the Toronto Star. There's a reason why she seems so at home there.