George Santos is a liar. George Santos is a ridiculous liar. George Santos is a habitual liar. George Santos is a liar who lies about things that it doesn’t make sense to lie about, apparently just to keep in practice. George Santos lies about lying, and then he lies about having lied about lying. George Santos is such a pathetic and risible liar that QAnon kook Marjorie Taylor Greene—a hobbyist liar who turned pro a few years back—rolls her eyes about what a lying liar that lying liar is.
Question: Is that a problem for a Republican elected official here at the last dying gasps of Anno Domini 2022?
I don’t see how. Rep. Greene wants you to believe that shadowy Jews are using lasers to manipulate the weather. Almost every Republican who matters or who should matter—Kevin McCarthy, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Pence, Nikki Haley—stood there looking stupid for six years (and counting) while Donald Trump told lie after lie after lie, nodding their empty little heads like a ghastly collection of particularly demented bobblehead dolls. The main themes of right-wing talk radio and cable news right now are—still—vaccine-conspiracy kookery and stolen-election kookery. Even if the contemporary Republican Party could take five minutes away from whatever the grift of the week is and work up a good head of moral-outrage steam about George Santos—the wildly successful grandson of Jewish refugees from the Holocaust who proved himself at Baruch College and NYU before rising through the ranks at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup before accumulating an impressive portfolio of investments who isn’t wildly successful or Jewish or the grandson of Holocaust refugees and who didn’t go to Baruch or NYU or work at Goldman or Citigroup and who apparently is something of a slacker but swears up and down that he positively absolutely is not a criminal so sir!—who would take them seriously? Who could take them seriously?
Kicking George Santos out of Congress is a job for the people of Long Island, one that they can do for themselves if they should happen to discover some particle of communal self-respect. But there are things that Republicans in Congress could and should do to set an example here: They could and should refuse to give him committee assignments; they could and should vote to censure him; they could and should expel him from the Republican Party. It wouldn’t mean much coming from the motley crew of Chalmun’s Spaceport Cantina characters that is the Republican leadership today or from the generally invertebrate Republican electorate for which it stands, but it would be a start.
On a recent appearance on The Remnant, Jessica Gavora said that what the Republican Party needs is a “reckoning,” and that is exactly the right word. A reckoning is only partly about imposing sanctions on offenders—and, in this case, such sanctions necessarily would be only symbolic, because imposing real sanctions on those who had performed shamefully during the Trump years, up to and including the attempted post-election coup d’état, would result in the effective liquidation of the Republican Party as a whole. (Which would not be the worst outcome, but that’s another column.) A reckoning is also about putting down an accounting of what has happened, making a useful historical record of who did what when and to how great a degree of culpability. This is necessary for many reasons, one of which is the fact that in the Trump years the GOP showed itself to be not a party infected by the occasional scoundrel and prevaricator but a party with a corporate commitment to the worst and most obvious kind of dishonesty, a party in which embracing lies and furthering lies became, perversely, a test of virtue.
If the Republican Party would like to make a desperately needed New Year’s resolution, it should be this: that the GOP will cease being an organization dedicated to lies, based on lies, trafficking in lies, cultivating lies, and strategically reliant on lies. The Republicans should embark on a very modest course of self-improvement that begins with telling the truth. Of course, such a specimen as George Santos would have no place in such a party.
Neither would Donald Trump, Kevin McCarthy, Newt Gingrich, Sean Hannity, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Mike Pence …