I think the political conventional wisdom is that resigning closes the book on you and if you hold on, you have a chance however small it is. But I don’t think all scandals are created equal. Richard Nixon resigned. Bill Clinton didn’t.
Nixon’s malfeasance was directed at the state itself. He was trying to rig elections and attack political opponents and then blockading the state’s other agencies from investigating these things. You have to stretch further to get Clinton. He didn’t fuck Monica and never said he did, but everyone thought that the fact that he diddled her and she blew him meant he fucked her, so he must have been lying about saying he didn’t fuck her. But the cheating, such as it was, wasn’t directed at the government and there really wasn’t any lying. Clinton was impeached for diddling a fat chick.
Contrast Clinton with Mayor Filner in San Diego, who was a serial harasser of women. When we’re honest, we know that nothing Clinton did impacted his ability to do his job—in fact, he did a damn good job according to most people. But Filner bordered on the sociopathic with his harassing. Or Anthony Weiner, whose actual mental acuity seemed to be called into question by what he did. No one ever really though Clinton was stupid. That’s an important difference.
As they say, “it’s the lie that gets you.” But it depends on the lie. Many members of the Bush administration got away with grave lies and none were impeached. As Hitler knew and Clinton and Nixon can tell you, smaller lies, ones that are almost “white” in the minor scale of what they coverup seem to be reacted to the worst. You notice the glitches in the matrix, not the matrix itself, to use the standard Gen-X cliche.
In Rob Ford’s case, he seemed to have proved the CW by not resigning even after witnesses reported seeing his crack smoking video. He got away with it for the better part of a year. But when the other shoe dropped, it not only proved that he smoked crack (during a drinking binge no less) but that he lied about the whole thing. Everything else that has come to light has only made it worse.
So, as we speak, the mayor of Canada’s largest city cannot be removed from office unless convicted of a crime and the provincial government seems only to make veiled threats of doing anything (probably on the weak ass assumption that they should let their political enemy stew instead of immediately staunching the irredeemable damage this is doing to the city, province, and nation) the council is taking apparently illegal steps to curtail his power but it’s not clear they really can.
Ford’s crimes aren’t Nixonian (that we know of) but they are more than Clintonian. They show a marked lack of mental health and a literal inability to think clearly too often. They aren’t of the Bush character in that there is no massive edifice of bullshit for others that has come crashing down. Ford thinks he can weather this. He might be right.
I don’t think he’ll resign. I don’t think the province will boot him from office. I think his time will just run out. And instead of a more nuanced views, the next idiot to have a scandal in our country will just hang on further.