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It’s time to stop talking about George Santos

George Santos the man has been around since 1988. But George Santos, notorious Republican congressman and notoriously famous, has only been around for about six weeks.

Most people were introduced to that Santos in mid-December, a simpler and much more boring time. The midterm elections are over. Congress was in gridlock, preparing for new leadership thanks to the GOP majority. And the dominant GOP story was Kevin McCarthy’s bid to become Speaker of the House.

A few weeks and many news cycles later, whatever control Republicans once had over their revival narrative has been fully co-opted by a single freshman lawmaker from New York.

There have been many excellent reports from Santos exposing the serial liar behind the fake CV. But there are plenty of other members of Congress who deserve the obsessive scrutiny directed at a guy who clearly uses the media to promote his own celebrity — and revels in it.

The mid-winter news cycle only fueled the breathless coverage of Santos, who was caught lying about his education, career, finances, living arrangements, religion and name. Not only has Santos created a complete character, he’s touched on the third rail of things decent people never lie about: the Holocaust and 9/11. And if you thought it couldn’t get any worse, Santos literally stole money from a dying dog.

Since The New York Times launched its initial investigation into Santos, the news cycle has produced a steady stream of new revelations, ranging from the potentially criminal (Santos’ campaign released a $199 million spending figure statistically speaking) to pure fun (Santos has a nice Brazilian alter). -ego and enjoys a good bop!) to ridiculously speculative (Santos apparently wore a stolen $520 Burberry scarf to a Stop the Steal rally) to terribly Beltway-centric (Santos was seen in all over DC, even at a popular karaoke bar nearby). Capitol Hill.)

For six weeks, it seems I’ve learned too much about Santos and nothing. Every twist in the Santos saga is like a new episode of a show you’re forced to watch because everyone else is—like Tiger King, but it’s 2023 and there are no tigers, only crooks.

The product is a caricature of an allegedly corrupt MP, apparently so obsessed with money that he sells his pet and lies about his mother for influence. Santos too explosive reporters because he does their job when he’s not trolling them with donuts and… chicken sandwiches, a crude trick to get people involved watching him for answers, of which there are none yet.

noun George Santos (RN.Y.) leaves a meeting of the House Republican Conference on Capitol Hill on Wednesday.

Andrew Harnik/Associated Press

It should come as no surprise that Santos is attracting attention. He’s been played by several comedians on late-night TV — performances that Santos called “terrible” in a tweet. At a recent fundraiser for McCarthy, apparently Santos he told people that he, not McCarthy, was the most famous person in the room. In what was widely seen as another trolling by… his colleagues? journalists? human decency? – Santos, who lied about being Jewish and a descendant of Holocaust survivors, gave a speech in the courtroom on Friday commemoration of Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Presiding over a thin GOP majority, McCarthy adamantly opposed telling Santos to resign. A month into the new Congress, Santos has become the main distraction from the fact that House Republicans have not presented a substantial policy agenda to address all the things they talked about during their midterm campaigns, such as fixing the economy, indoctrination. woke” schools and fighting crime.

The crime issue was something Santos successfully campaigned on to shift a battleground in a contest that was largely framed as a showdown between two gay men, Santos and Democrat Robert Zimmerman. That race will go down as the biggest collective mistake of the media, political operatives and their control structures. “I knew this guy was shady, that he was involved in some sketchy stuff, and that there was an element of fraud around the campaign — to what extent, I didn’t know,” a Democrat involved in the race told HuffPost. “But a lot of the coverage was, ‘Here are two gay candidates’ — what does that say to anybody?”

Santos’ appetite for more drama destroyed even the minor characters in his life. A few weeks ago I spoke with Gregory Morey-Parker, a friend of Santos first mentioned in the New York Times as a former roommate. Morey-Parker, who now lives in Massachusetts, told me the Times contacted him because it noticed he had commented on one of Santos’ old Facebook posts. He said he and Santos first met to pursue a romantic relationship, and when that didn’t work out, they remained friends. The two lived together briefly in the home Santos shared with his mother and sister in Jackson Heights, in the Queens borough of New York. That was about a decade ago, and only for a few weeks, while Morey-Parker was looking for an apartment. He could not remember the exact date or Santos’ address.

He said it was clear to him that something was wrong with his friend “Anthony” (Santos calls him Anthony Devolder). “Things didn’t make sense. They did not add up,” he said, arguing that Santos, who claimed to be rich in financial records, did not come out.

Morey-Parker went on to give many, many, many interviews. We stayed in touch. Then, five weeks into the Santos news cycle, I got one last message from him: “Thank you for contacting us. I have no further comment on Congressman Santos at this time. Sincerely, GMP.”

Around this time, I also spoke with Grant Lally, a former GOP congressional candidate and editor of the North Shore Leader, a Long Island newspaper believed to be the only news outlet to sound the alarm about Santos before the election. Lally is another former acquaintance of Santos who has been in high demand recently. The two first met at a Long Island restaurant in 2020. Lally described Santos as “elusive, strangely reserved and very insecure.” For someone seeking mentorship and political support, Santos acted strangely, Lally recalled, leaning back in his chair and “enjoying” him while “paying attention to him.”

While Santos is viewed with curious detachment by his colleagues in Washington, he is seen as an outcast at home. Long Island Republicans are already calling for his replacement in two years or sooner if Santos resigns or is fired. The GOP seems to be taking its mission more seriously now. “I just picked this guy and who is he?” Lally said, describing the initial stunned response to Santos’ revelation. “The general perception is that he didn’t really mean it, and Zimmerman meant it. But elections sometimes produce strange consequences.”

Barring the revelation that Santos invented the cure for cancer, there is little expectation that he will win another term, positioning him to become one of the most famous single-term congressmen in history. It could be just what he wants.

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