Who the f**k is George Santos? To be fair, I do this every time a new Congress comes to town. I don’t have the bandwidth to know or care who all 435 members of the U.S. Congress are, especially the ones I don’t care for much. Santos was going to be an irrelevant nobody that helped elect the worst Speaker in U.S. history this coming January, but now he’s getting lots of recognition, for all the wrong reasons.
Basically, George Santos life looks to be fraudulent. His business life, education, and past behavior is all in question, because you can’t substantiate that he did any of it. I will spare you the details, the guy is a weirdo and appears to be a fraud. When he surprisingly won his race in November, that wasn’t a good thing. Now we’re finding out the details and wondering what Long Island was drinking before they voted. You get your mea culpa in 2024.
The real question is how did this happen? The media wanted to dunk on the Democrats for ineptitude, Democrats wanted to dunk on the media for not investigating him. Welcome to the weird world of opposition research, one of the only areas of campaigning I never did before, so I asked some actual experts. A Congressional manager from a DCCC targeted race this cycle, an opposition research professional, and a former DCCC staffer made it make sense for me.
First off, you can criticize Robert Zimmerman for losing this race, but literally all three of them agreed that his campaign isn’t really at fault for this. Targeted DCCC and NRCC campaigns generally get their research book on the opponent from the campaign committee, usually. For instance, the bombshells that destroyed the Republican opponents of Rep. Craig and Rep. Kaptur were likely done by DCCC staff. The way it sets up is that the committee has a national director leading the department and a series of regional “desks” overseeing several states underneath them. Under them they will either hire junior level staffers or an outside firm to go do the research on both the opposition candidates and their own nominees, in the most competitive districts. They can’t do every candidate in every district, so they have a basic template they send staffers out with to start with in each district, based on what issues polling suggests are on voters minds, and the obvious things like looking to see if your opponent killed someone, or something else nuts. So, for instance in 2022, DCCC researchers likely were starting out by looking for documented evidence of extremism on abortion or guns, ties to January 6th, and ties to bad foreign governments, like say, Russia. In this case, they found some very real hits from this bunch, and some of the stuff now alleged in the New York Times piece. Santos managed to avoid most of the scrutiny, and won this district by a massive margin, considering how blue it was. With that said, I think you could fairly question what the DCCC sent their staff looking for (Long Island voters were clearly fine with this guy hanging out with domestic terrorists on Jan. 6th), but not the process as a whole- they found a lot of what they looked for, they couldn’t imagine all of this nonsense, or go looking for everything.
So then the obvious question is, if they had a good chunk of this stuff, and we’re fairly certain Democratic press staff was pitching it to reporters, why did the article come out a week before Christmas? How did Santos essentially make up his life, and get away with it? I give the media a little more charitable read than Democratic activists here- it’s not their job to print whatever smut the parties tell them to. Maybe the reporter didn’t find the pitch credible. Maybe Democrats couldn’t quite substantiate everything. To be fair, egregious hatchet jobs are unfair. If Democrats had all of this, and reporters wouldn’t print it, they always had the option of putting it out through paid comms (TV, digital, mail). They didn’t.
Santos is a national disgrace, and he should leave Congress before it starts, but he won’t. A lowlife who fabricated the majority of his story to get here isn’t going to feel shame now. The moral of this story is there ain’t such things as halfway crooks. If you’re going to be terrible and still run for office, I guess you do better by going to a level so far bad that no one even believes the story. It worked for Santos.