George Santos lies, but why does Joe Biden get a pass for his?

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Why do they do it? Who needs to lie like this? I am thinking, of course, of Representative elect George Santos. But also of the whole lot of them. Of politicians as a species. Why do they feel the need to make stuff up?

It must be admitted that Santos is emerging as the undisputed top of his class of fibsters.

To date he claims to have attended a prestigious Bronx prep school which has no record of him ever being there. He claims to have graduated from Baruch College, despite never having enrolled there. He claims to have worked for Citigroup and Goldman Sachs but never did. When confronted with the fact that he´d never worked for either company he blamed a “poor choice of words.”

I can see the point. I often claim to have worked for the Dalai Lama, UN Secretary General and the Pope as their joint global emissary to solve all world conflicts. Whenever anyone points out that I haven’t left my apartment much lately I too just blame a “poor choice of words.”

Still, it is the sheer weirdness of Santos’ claims which keep striking me. It’s not just career embellishments — it is lies about pretty major things. For instance, so far the Republican has claimed that he is both Jewish and Catholic. When confronted by The New York Post about this he replied “I never claimed to be Jewish. I am Catholic. Because I learned my maternal family had a Jewish background I said I was Jew-ish.” It turns out that his family are from Brazil.

Then yesterday we learned that as recently as last year he was claiming that his mother died as a result of 9/11. Then he said she died of cancer in 2016.

What is it with this guy? Why does he feel the need to any of this? Does he think that people vote out of pity? Or because of which school or college someone went to? And what the hell does he think of New Yorkers if he thinks we deeply want representatives who worked for Goldman Sachs?

Of course he´s not the only one who does this. Our very own President is a master of the career-embellishing lie.

President Biden
President Biden has been caught in a few lies of his own since taking office.
Andrew Harnik/AP

But with Joe Biden there is at least method to the madness. For instance when Biden has claimed in the past to have graduated at the top of his class in the toppiest class that ever was he is hoping that the public will just be wowed by his brilliance. “Top of the class? Well gee — there’s a guy I can get behind to run this country” says no one. In a way it is understandable. Joe Biden clearly has some kind of intellectual inferiority complex and it bursts out of him occasionally.

Way back in 1987 Biden could be found on the campaign trail claiming that he had attended law school on a full academic scholarship, been the outstanding student in the political science department and graduated with not one, not two, but three undergraduate degrees from Delaware. Turned out he’d been at the bottom of the class and scraped a single degree. Back then it was thought that Biden’s lies about his own career would destroy his future political prospects. So much for that.

Still there is a certain sense in that lie. As there is to the other category of lie that Biden likes to use. Because as well as being an academic genius who spends most of his time touring the world with President Xi, Joe also has to pretend to be a horny-handed son of the soil. That is why when he visited a technical college in Minnesota last year he couldn’t resist putting himself at the center of even these events. Back then Biden told the poor souls he was being introduced to that he understood their jobs all too well. Given that he himself had once been a tractor driver. “Awesome” said one of his interlocutors, with a slight wobble of doubt in his voice.

Why could Biden not have just said “I sometimes drive a car. I guess this thing’s just the same but bigger?” or some similar scintillating chat. Why does he have to put himself at the center of things? Because he needs to be one of us and also better than us. Both above the people and of the people.

Hillary Clinton was similar. Most of her lies were either ways to make herself look braver and more respected than she was or just attempts to appear relatable to normal earthlings.

But with Santos it is something else entirely. Why does he think that New Yorkers will admire someone whose mother died in 9/11, had to leave private school in 2008 because of the financial crisis, worked for Goldman Sachs, is Jewish and also Catholic?

George Santos
Some GOP members are calling for an investigation into George Santos’ lies.
John Locher/AP

The explanation from his campaign makes matters even worse. Santos 2022 spokesperson Gabrielle Lipsky claimed that “As a millennial, George did what he had to in order to evade smear campaigns put forth by elitist organizations.” What? Millennials have to lie? Lipsky went on to say that the media has “shamefully launched open season against the first openly gay person to be elected to Congress.”

Fact check: Santos is not the first openly gay person elected to Congress and is not the first openly gay Republican elected to Congress.

So lie upon lie.

In the past you’d say such stuff made someone unelectable. But today a long list of lies seems to be what you need for elected office.

Hey, I’m walking here!

It is great to see tourists back in New York. I love the fact that even now, in the period between Christmas and New Year when the city is normally quiet the streets are packed. It’s great for the city’s business and great to see. Just one complaint. I’m used to it taking twice along as it should to cross town in a taxi across. But taking twice as long to walk across town? So welcome to all the tourists. We love having you here. But could you just walk a bit faster?

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