Art of the Con: On Trumpism's Wings, Mr. Santos Goes to Washington
By the time former President Donald Trump scooted out of Washington on Jan. 20, 2021, The Washington Post had counted a mere 30,573 false or misleading claims by The Great Swamp Drainer during his time in office. Even that was an undercount, because the Post decided early on that it would only count one falsehood per topic for each speech, tweet or interview, lest its computer crash under the sheer volume of fabrications. Thus, for example, if in any given speech Trump uttered multiple lies, say, about his taxes or supposed payment thereof, or about how COVID-19 was a hoax and was scheduled to shortly disappear, or about how people kept telling him he was a genius, the Post only marked him down for a single falsehood.
Even with that limitation, however, Trump did not only set the world record for lies for any figure, public or private, indicted or unindicted. When it comes to dishonesty, he is in a galaxy unto himself.
But that isn't all he has achieved. He has inspired numberless others in the Republican Party to emulate him -- by repeating his fraudulent nonsense that the 2020 election was "stolen" or "rigged," for instance, or that President Joe Biden is "corrupt," or all manner of other hogwash. It once was that those holding themselves out as moral adhered to the adage "Thou shalt not lie." In the Republican Party that Trump created in his image, it's now "Thou shalt not lie unless thou hope that no one knoweth the truth."
For all the dishonest election deniers and other genuine-gold-watch-for-only-one-dollar hucksters that rule the party of Trump, no one quite embodies the depths to which the Grand Old Party has sunk more than one George Santos, the Trump acolyte and titanically brazen fraudster who flipped to red a traditionally blue congressional district on Long Island by lying his and everyone else's socks off.
Santos claimed to have attended the prestigious Horace Mann School in the Bronx. He didn't. He claimed to have graduated from Baruch College. Nope. He claimed to have worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs. News to them.
He claimed to be a "proud American Jew" and "Jewish." He actually isn't, so he now claims that he meant that he was "Jew-ish' -- whatever that means. He claimed his mother's family were Holocaust survivors. They weren't. He claimed he had a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties. He was off by 13 properties.
He claimed that he founded a major animal rescue charity. Sounds great, but the IRS has no record of it. He claimed that his company "lost 4 employees" at the June 2016 Pulse nightclub massacre in Orlando, Florida, but a New York Times review of the obituaries of the 49 actual victims of that massacre does not support this.
It turns out that Santos admitted using stolen checks and a phony name to steal money from a store in Brazil, where he lived at the time. Though he denies this, there's the little matter of that admission. And there are question marks in his financial reporting larger than Trump Tower. He has stopped offering even the most pathetic responses to journalists' questions, because there appear to be no responses, and because someone wise has apparently told him that lying about lies is risky business.
Santos finds himself under state and federal investigation, but that seems unlikely to stop the Republican congressional leadership from welcoming him into your House of Representatives. This should surprise no one: the GOP, after all, is the party of Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Lauren Boebert, Matt Gaetz and the party's lead elephant, Donald Trump himself.
George Santos gives every indication of being a sociopath, but let's not mince words: the party that he supports and that supports him is dominated by sociopath enablers and sociopath defenders. There are still decent people throughout the Republican Party, but they don't run the show. America won't turn the corner until the indecent ones are run out of town on a rail.
Jeff Robbins, a former assistant United States attorney and United States delegate to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, was chief counsel for the minority of the United States Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. An attorney specializing in the First Amendment, he is a longtime columnist for the Boston Herald, writing on politics, national security, human rights and the Mideast.
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