President Richard M. Nixon gives his farewell speech to his staff in the White House, following his resignation August 9, 1974. Photo: Bettmann-UPI Reuters.
The world is watching, slack-jawed, for Toronto’s bottomed-out mayor Rob Ford to resign. And the most frequently-asked question in the international media is “why doesn’t he?”
Could it be he’s looking for an exit line?
Take Richard Nixon. When the infamy of Watergate bit too deep to stop the bleeding, he chucked in his presidential term more than two years early, telling a national TV audience “I hope that I will have hastened the start of the process of healing which is so desperately needed in America.”
For America, read Toronto.
Thirty-four years later, in 2008, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer resigned in a flight of oratory less than 48 hours after he was fingered as a client of a “high-end prostitution ring,” declaiming “over the course of my public life I have insisted – I believe correctly – that people regardless of their position or power take responsibility for their conduct. I can, and will, ask no less of myself.”
And (another Toronto allegory) when New York lawmaker Anthony Weiner was under mounting pressure from fellow Democrats to step down after a much-lampooned sexting scandal, he quit Congress “so my colleagues can get back to work, my neighbors can choose a new representative and most important so that my wife and I can continue to heal from the damage I caused.”
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then the chief of the world’s most powerful financial body, the International Monetary Fund, made an unrepentant exit in 2011, after being charged with sexual assault on a New York hotel maid, but – another example here – also declared “I want to protect this institution which I have served with honour and devotion.”
For sheer drama, Ford could turn to the private sector.
Californian Andrew Lahde, a self confessed greedy hedge fund manager, rang down the curtain while telling the world what it had been thinking all along: hedge fund managers are, well, greedy. How good did that feel?
If the mayor decides to get it all off his considerable chest, he could follow the example of U.S. comedian Doug Walker, now known to the blogosphere as That Guy With the Glasses. He simply marched into his former company lunch room, ripped open his shirt and bared the skin-painted words “I quit,” to the delight of YouTube viewers.
And JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, in a bailout as famous as AIG’s, flipped a four-letter word at a defiant passenger on a flight arriving at New York’s Kennedy airport, grabbed a beer, and made his exit on the plane’s inflatable emergency chute – while announcing “that’s it. I’m done.”
A bit tricky for 300-lb. Ford? There are quieter examples.he could follow.
Tunisian President Zine al-Abedine Ben Ali, after 24 years in power, anti-regime riots in the streets and days of mounting violence, didn’t wait to be ousted. He packed his bag – and got on a plane. 'Nuff said.
Olivia Ward has written on conflicts, politics and human rights from the former Soviet Union to the Middle East and South Asia since Mikhail Gorbachev handed it over to Boris Yeltsin.