I haven’t commented on the increasingly bizarre stories that continue to emerge about George Santos, the Republican candidate who won a Congressional race in New York, and was later “outed” as a serial liar–or, as several articles like to label him, a “fabulist.”
Initially, I ignored the story. After all, the media was all over it and it was unlikely that anyone who follows political news would be unaware of it. But a recent recap in the New York Times yesterday– just before Santos was scheduled to be sworn in– made me realize that Santos is the candidate who really epitomizes the current state of the once Grand Old Party.
On the off-chance that readers are unaware of the extent of Santos’ fraudulent biography, I’ll share part of the Times’ very abbreviated description:
Mr. Santos has said that he grew up in a basement apartment in Jackson Heights, Queens. Until Wednesday, Mr. Santos’s campaign biography said that his mother, Fatima Devolder, worked her way up to become “the first female executive at a major financial institution.” He has also said that she was in the South Tower of the World Trade Center during the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that she died “a few years later.”
In fact, Ms. Devolder died in 2016, and a Brazilian community newspaper at the time described her as a cook. Mr. Santos’s friends and former roommates recalled her as a hardworking, friendly woman who spoke only Portuguese and made her living cleaning homes and selling food. None of those interviewed by The Times could recall any instance of her working in finance, and several chalked the story up to Mr. Santos’s tendency for mythmaking.
His apparent fabrications about his own life begin with his claims about his high school. He said he attended Horace Mann School, a prestigious private institution in the Bronx, and said he dropped out in 2006 before graduating and earning an equivalency diploma. A spokesman for Horace Mann said that the school had no record of his attending at all.
There is much, much more: his claim to be Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors, an attendee of universities that have no record of his ever being a student, an employee of firms that never heard of him…it goes on. He is evidently still wanted by the police in Brazil, where he admitted to stealing checks from an elderly man.
The extent of his fabrications was uncovered by the Times after the election, which raises all sorts of questions about the failures of both opposition research and the media covering the race. (A tiny Long Island paper, The North Shore Leader, had raised timely questions about his claims, but was ignored.)
Whatever lessons we may want to draw from those failures is one thing. More to the point, what the revelations really do is shine a bright and unforgiving light on the increasing disaster that is today’s GOP.
Kevin McCarthy has refused to comment on Santos’ deceptions, because he desperately needs the new Congressman’s vote for Speaker of the House–a vote he has thus far been unable to secure despite prostrating himself to the lunatic caucus. There’s a down-and-dirty fight for the position of Chair of the RNC–a fight featuring arguments over who has the most fidelity to Trump, and “serious “candidates like The Pillow Guy.
Santos’ campaign evidently focused heavily on his presumed (invented) bona fides–a perfect representation of the current Republican Party, which has abandoned even the pretense of policy advocacy in favor of a full-blown dependence upon identity politics.
I know that very few voters actually read the party platforms that have routinely been produced by the parties until now, but the significance of the Republicans’ refusal to even bother creating one is obvious. Today’s GOP relies for support on two groups: rich people who don’t want to pay taxes, and White Christian Nationalists frantic not to be “replaced” by Jews and/or people of color. Its subservience to both doesn’t need to be spelled out in a platform.
Really, when you think about it, Santos is a perfect representation of today’s GOP–a party devoted to the Big Lie(s) perpetrated by a more successful con man. Like Trump, Santos won an election by pretending to be something he isn’t–in Trump’s case, a successful businessman–and has evidently used campaign dollars to enrich himself.
It remains to be seen whether Congress will be stuck with this character for the entirety of his two-year term, or whether he’ll be forced out. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that the next two years will feature the inevitable implosion of the current iteration of the Republican Party.
Pass the popcorn.