Ought to the blessed day ever come when former President Donald Trump is distributed to federal jail, solely one in all his aides has earned the correct to share his cell: George Santos, who on Friday grew to become the sixth particular person in historical past to expelled from the Home of Representatives, greater than seven months after he was first charged with crimes together with fraud and cash laundering. (He pleaded not responsible.) Santos, a chasing fraud, obsessive about celeb, pushed into politics not by ideology however by vainness and the promise of proximity to wealthy characters, is a pure product of Trump’s Republican Get together.
“On practically each event, he positioned his need for personal achieve above his obligation to uphold the Structure, federal regulation and moral rules,” mentioned a Home Ethics Committee report on Santos launched final month. He’s a real little one of the MAGA motion.
That motion is multifaceted, and totally different politicians signify totally different tribes: There’s the grim, conspiracy-intoxicated suburban plaintiveness of Marjorie Taylor Greene, the gun-loving rural evangelicalism of Lauren Boebert, the blatant white nationalism of Paul Gosar, and the sleaze of Matt boy. Gaetz. However nobody embodies Trump’s fame-obsessed sociopathic vacancy like Santos. He’s the inheritor to Trump’s sybaritic nihilism, high-kitsch absurdity and impregnable audacity.
Different politicians embody the sinister, merciless and vile elements of Trumpism. Santos embodies his venal and ridiculous facet, the half rooted in actuality TV and get-rich-quick schemes. As Mark Chiusano experiences in his excellently timed new e-book on Santos, “The Fabulist,” if the now-former congressman confirmed a lot curiosity in politics earlier than 2016, we do not have a file of it; his heroes had been pop divas like Paris Hilton, Woman Gaga and “Actual Housewives” star Bethenny Frankel. “However by 2016,” Chiusano writes, “he had discovered a brand new function mannequin who introduced celeb glitter and gossip to the citizenry: Donald Trump.”
Maybe the rationale a crucial mass of Republicans finally rejected Santos is that he was too embarrassing a mirrored image of the values of the social gathering’s de facto chief. That is positively why I will miss him. A homosexual man and, reportedly, a former drag queen in a celebration preoccupied with homophobia, and a pseudo-populist accused of tricking his marketing campaign donors into paying for Botox, Hermès procuring sprees and the adult-entertainment web site OnlyFans, Santos distilled the lurid hypocrisy of the Trump motion into nice comedy impact. In a world crammed with tragedy, he’s a farce.
It is not simply his vainness and vainness that made Santos such an ideal avatar of the MAGA ethos. Much more important was the defiance he confirmed when his blatant wrongdoing was revealed, and the best way that defiance endeared him to a few of Trump’s most ardent supporters. In December 2022, after Santos was elected however earlier than he took workplace, The New York Instances reported that he had lied about his training, purported profession in finance, household wealth and charitable endeavors, and that he had been charged in Brazil with utilizing stolen checks. Santos’ response was, as Chiusano writes, to “submit by means of it,” making a fantastic present of shamelessness each on-line and in actual life.
A lot of the MAGAverse cherished it. Greene grew to become a loyal good friend. As New York Journal’s Shawn McCreesh reported in March, at a birthday celebration in Manhattan for Breitbart editor Emma-Jo Morris, Santos was the “It lady.” His wrists are clad in bling from Hermès and Cartier, and fawning followers line up for selfies.” A month later, The Intercept’s Daniel Boguslaw described Santos being feted at a Washington bar: “A milieu of younger conservatives, operatives, and home workers gathered to howl within the subsequent technology mannequin of Donald Trump’s societal wrecking ball, and the title on everybody’s lips was George Santos.” A hardcore MAGA group referred to as the Washington, DC, Younger Republicans wrote about Santos’ “inspiring remarks” on the occasion, together with his insisting that his enemies must “drag my chilly, lifeless physique” out of Congress. Gosar chimed in with an admiring reply: “Based mostly.”
Adam Serwer famously wrote that on the subject of Trump, “cruelty is the purpose,” however possibly crime is, too. Rule-breaking is essential to Trump’s cross-border enchantment; it positions him as above the constraints that govern lesser males whereas making a permission construction for his followers to launch their very own inhibitions. That is a giant a part of the rationale his many accusations solely appeared to bolster his Republican assist. Certain, a few of his backers in all probability recognized along with his epic persecution complicated, however that alone would not clarify the adoring enthusiasm of a few of his followers for his mug shot. (“He seems powerful,” gushed Fox Information host Jesse Watters.) Reasonably, many individuals on the correct are thrilled to point out impunity from individuals who share their politics. Within the late Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, the leftist counterculture lionized outlaws just like the Hells Angels for his or her revolt in opposition to a hated institution. At present, as Santos’ rise to iconic standing demonstrates, the same antinomianism has taken maintain amongst alienated conservatives.
In fact, ultimately, the devotion of a bit of the right-wing demimonde was not sufficient to save lots of Santos. Greater than half of the Home Republican caucus and most of its leaders stood by the disgraced fraudster, and Greene referred to as his expulsion “disgraceful,” however in contrast to Trump, Santos by no means gathered practically sufficient energy to compel Republican institutionalists to swallow their disgust for him. As well as, as rep. Tim Burchett, R-Tenn. — who voted in opposition to deportation — mentioned of voters in his district: “Individuals don’t love that he is homosexual.”
Though he could not be a congressman, Santos has mentioned he’s not finished with public life. At a information convention Thursday morning, he mentioned he plans to be concerned within the 2024 presidential race: “I can’t relaxation till I see Donald Trump again within the White Home.” Hopefully he’ll seem on the marketing campaign path earlier than his trial begins subsequent September. Nobody deserves to be a Trump surrogate anymore.