WASHINGTON (AP) — Beleaguered Republican Representative George Santos she arrives on the House floor most days to deliver short speeches, celebrating women-owned small businesses, a special high school in her district, or expressing concern for various countries in crisis.
At other times he can be seen running through the halls of the United States Capitol as legislators do, from one meeting to the next. he, once fainted donuts to the press corps that guards his office.
Far from being punished for the widespread criticism, ridicule, and rejection that Santos has received after to have admitted to having fabricated many aspects of his life story, the newly elected congressman plays out happily in Congress. He refuses to ask for his resignation as he rewrites the narrative in real time.
For Santos, it’s an unusual top-down approach that would have been almost unthinkable in an earlier generation, but one that signals new norms taking hold amid the deepening of a post-truth era in Congress.
“I was chosen by the people to come here to represent them, and I do it every day,” Santos told The Associated Press in a brief interview outside the House. “It is hard work. If I said it was easy, I’d be lying to you, and I don’t think that’s what we want, right?
Pressed on the idea of a post-truth era, Santos said, “I think the truth still matters a lot.”
maybe not since donald trump launched his presidency with exaggerated claims about the size of the crowd at his inauguration if an elected official came to Washington and so blatantly and defiantly sought to convince the public of a different reality than the one before their very eyes.
Santos is coming of political age at a time of heartbreak in civic life, when a duly sworn member of the United States Congress he can persevere, as usual, despite having lied to voters about his resume, experience and personal life when he ran for elected office.
As Santos faces a barrage of investigations, by the House Ethics Committee and a county prosecutor in New York, in addition to questions from previous charges in Brazil, where he lived for a time, seems indifferent to the challenges.
Just a few days ago, Santos filed paperwork to potentially seek re-election.
“It used to be that when a politician was lying and he got caught, he was embarrassed, or there was some kind of liability,” said Lee McIntyre, author of “Post-Truth” and a researcher at Boston University.
“What I see in the post-truth era is not just people lying or lying more, it’s that they lie for a political purpose,” he said. “The really scary part is getting away with it.”
At stake is not just “truthfulness,” as comedian Stephen Colbert once called falsehoods in public life, but broader questions about the expectation that political leaders will tell the truth.
Santos has admitted that he had portrayed himself as someone he was not: not a college graduate, not a Wall Street genius, not from a Jewish family of Holocaust survivors, not the son who lost his mother in the September 11 to the World Trade Center.
Since then, more questions have flowed, including about the origins of a $700,000 loan he made to his campaign for Congress and his own reported wealth.
Republican Rep. Anthony D’Esposito of New York, a freshman who won election last fall in neighboring Long Island, said: “I don’t think it’s the state of politics. I think it is the state of an individual, and the state he is in is delirium.
D’Esposito has introduced a couple of bills that would prevent elected officials from profiting from wrongdoing and said he is working with others to ensure that Santos is not “the face of our party. We have made it very clear. He is not our brand. He is not part of us.”
While Santos did remove yourself from your committee assignments while investigations are underway, has resisted pressure from republicans resign and of democrats be removed from office.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who won a slim Republican majority with only a few seats to spare, said voters chose Santos and “he has the right to serve.” If irregularities are found, Santos could be removed from his post, he said.
“I should have resigned a long time ago,” said Rep. Robert Garcia of California, the Democratic freshman class president who sponsored the resolution to oust Santos.
“It’s not just Democrats who are saying this and their fellow Republicans in New York,” Garcia said in an interview. “No one wants it in DC”
But Santos seems emboldened as his profile has risen, including being parodied on “Saturday Night Live.” He has introduced his own bills in Congress, including one to require cognitive tests for presidents, and is trying to move on.
“I admitted it and cleared it up,” he said, referring to the public apology he made in December.
When President Joe Biden arrived to deliver the State of the Union address last month, Santos angered his colleagues by positioning himself in the center aisle, the place to see and be seen greeting high-profile guests. He was rebuked by fellow Republican senator Mitt Romney, who said that it was improper for Santos to be “parading in front of the president” and others.
“Senator Romney just echoed something I’ve heard my whole life, right, coming from a minority group, coming from a poor family: Go in the back room and shut up. Nobody cares to hear from you,” Santos recalled. “Well, I’m not going to do that.”
Santos often turns the tables, engaging in the whataboutism that has become commonplace in modern politics: the verbal somersault of equating one’s actions with those of others, even when they are not entirely comparable situations.
“You know,” Santos said, “have you ever not told a lie? Think hard.”
It’s what McIntyre calls a classic “disinformation tactic” designed not to bring clarity but confusion and avoid accountability.
Asked if he was here to stay, Santos said, “I’m here to do the job I was elected to do for the next two years.”
But will he run for re-election? “Maybe.”