A check kiter from Brazil sheds identities the way snakes shed their skin, appears in New York State as a well-educated, rich congressional candidate with a compelling past in which his family survived the Holocaust, he was a mucky-muck on Wall Street at such storied institutions as Goldman Sachs, and who tragically lost his mother in the 9-11 attacks on the World Trade Center. When belatedly revealed for the incredibly prolific liar that he is (the only true statement above is that he was a minor crook in Brazil), Republican leadership was characteristically mum, and by the time you read this, George Santos will be a Member of Congress.
Honestly, I’ve lost track of the exact number of times a leader of one of the two major American political parties has cravenly lied or overlooked lies, and weird, sometimes downright dangerous behavior, to gain or retain power. Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell (R-KY), took a couple of slaps at Donald Trump, blaming him for the Capitol riots on January 6, but when the rubber met the road, he led his caucus away from an impeachment conviction, fearing the division the Former Guy was sure to sew within the ranks, and missing the opportunity to make sure that he couldn’t run again.
So anxious is Speaker-in-Waiting Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), that he will once again bypass all concerns of ethics and integrity, and for the umpteenth time look the other way and seat representative-elect Santos—if that really is his name—because McCarthy needs the votes in a House that missed the predicted Red Wave, and has left him stranded on Unsavory Island, kowtowing to the far right extremists in his party who are delighted to hold him and their caucus hostage as they have so effectively done since the dawn of the Tea Party years ago.
Elise Stefanik, the New York Republican who abandoned her formerly lofty principles to kiss the Trump ring, took Liz Cheney’s chair in the party leadership. Her ethics are so transparently flexible, that according to Business Insider, “Former President Donald Trump doesn’t trust the rising Republican star…despite her overt displays of loyalty to him.” It’s ironic, and more than a little telling, that even the Former Guy is leery of those who embrace The Big Lie and the MAGA movement too closely. It takes a grifter to know one.
Where it concerns their aspiring liar-in-chief, how does one even begin to address the deafening silence coming from the leadership of the Republican Party? Where was their House leadership? For that matter, where were Mr. McCarthy and Ms. Stefanick and most all Republican members when the ex-president said the election that he continues to insist—in what has gone from an emergency for democracy, to unfunny farce, to incredibly sad delusion—was stolen from him, “[The Big Lie] allows for the termination of all rules, regulations, and articles, even those found in the Constitution.”
And how were they the only people who couldn’t bring themselves to denounce him for dining with infamous racists and antisemites? After all, how much courage does it take to say that Nazis and racists are bad?
It can take a while, but consequences for misbehaving are possible. Ask Alex Jones who is deservedly bankrupt, or Steve Bannon, for whom the logical end to ignoring a congressional subpoena is a date with the criminal justice system, or any of the unreasonably high number of former Trump Administration characters who have found themselves defendants in criminal proceedings?
Courageous souls like Liz Cheney and Cassidy Hutchinson showed us in 2022 what it means to speak truth to power, and to have integrity and a stable moral compass.
Back to where we started, George Santos, one must assume, suffers from so much self-hatred, that he can’t bear to tell the truth about himself. A litany of lies on every aspect of his life reveals more than criminality.
He is a picture perfect reflection of today’s Republican Party. Irresponsible, so inured to lies and desperate for power that nothing moves them to the truth. Party over country denigrates our nation.
Mr. Santos can call his lies “embellishment,” but they are fraud. Still, his legal troubles will come from lying about his campaign finances, because financial fraud has consequences that lying on your resume, or about your heritage, or about your mother’s death, does not.
This guy is trying to shove Elon, Ye and The Donald off the front page. Marge Greene must be beside herself. She was already plotting ways to get back in the headlines, when along came George Santos.
Things happen slowly, but as Martin Luther King observed, the arc of the universe bends toward justice. To that end, while the Republicans will seat Santos, he will not be able to outrun his lies forever.
©2023 Jon Sinton
VOL. 113, NO. 1 - Jan. 4, 2023