Canadian pop music sensation Justin Bieber has been making waves in recent weeks for his extra-legal antics, first getting jailed in Miami for allegedly drunk-driving (among other offenses) and then turning himself in to Toronto authorities Wednesday for allegedly assaulting a limousine driver there in late December. He got an unsolicited — but hardly shocking — stamp of approval from the city’s top politician, though, when Toronto Mayor Rob Ford used a Thursday appearance on an American sports radio show to defend him.
“He’s a young guy, 19 years old. I wish I was as successful as he was,” Ford said. And perhaps he has a point: Bieber and Ford have both gained notoriety for their wild lifestyles, but the former has true celebrity — and the fans that go with it — to bolster his standing in public opinion. It’s an unfortunate fact that celebrity covers a multitude of sins, and that Ford lacks the star clout that would make his crimes mere hiccups. The argument scales upward along the political food chain, too: New Jersey’s Chris Christie seems to be weathering a much more serious scandal far more easily. And it’s tempting to make a remark about the Obama administration’s ethical missteps as well, but they are both more serious and — for good and ill — stem from arguable misuses of the legitimate powers of the presidency. Ford, unfortunately, is a household name solely because of his fondness for crack cocaine. And a local Canadian politician. So he’s more or less out of luck.