The Old Man at the Head of the Nass River hoarded the sun, moon, and stars in boxes within his home. Raven, living in a dark and primordial world, was curious as to what such things looked like. He slipped into the Old Man’s daughter as a seed, and then was born to her as a child. He would then cry in the presence of his new ‘family’ to see what was in the boxes. Being shown by his exasperated grandfather, he would then ‘accidentally’ spill their contents. This gave us the first the night and then the daytime sky. Finally caught, he transformed back into his raven-form and escaped up the Old Man’s chimney, being stained black in the process of egress by either the burning of the sun in his beak or the ashes of the firepit (depending on which version is told).
George Santos is no Raven, of course. But while he lacks the true long term cleverness of a proper trickster figure (an archetype I often enjoy covering here for obvious thematic reasons) he is currently playing a very similar role.
The litany of lies this man-now hilariously serving as a Congressman from New York- has told is too lengthy to even bother listing out here. Some are still ambiguous as to what extent the claim is false, though all are at least partly lies. The way this is presented by actors in Congress and the media, however, is as a scandal of a pathological liar that looks bad on Santos himself. But the problem with this narrative is that Santos’ lies are precisely why this desperate Howdy-Doody-looking nobody got a seat in the most powerful legislature in the world. The lies, at least temporarily, worked. It was republican party candidate vetting, democratic party opposition research, and national level media that failed. Santos is a fool, yes, but a fool who exposes the foolishness of those who pretend they are not also fools. The fact that Kevin McCarthy had to entertain this man for weeks just to get his vote to be confirmed speaker, is the pinnacle of farce. Forget your airport bookstore political thrillers, this is real life written by Jack Vance.
In this way, George Santos has (unintentionally) rendered a civic service to the country, even if not his particular congressional district. He has proven that local media is the front line of vetting, and how an over-nationalized and corporatized news industry has undercut and sidelined this vital role. He has shown how many people, especially political elites, rely on this hollowed out media apparatus for their own world view, failing even the most basic of operations in an electorally competitive district. Santos has even shown the folly of choosing candidates based around identity politics style checklists when the lines between Jewish and ‘Jew-ish’, gay and married to a woman, waging GOP culture war on drag queens while being a drag queen, and having ones family die in every tragic event of the last 80 years multiple times over effectively mean nothing. In a world were presentation is all that matters it becomes an inevitability that public personas will arise that only tell others what they want to hear.
But Santos, being so over the top, so positively clownpilled, makes a mockery of this unstated process. It is now so obvious that it cannot be denied or ignored any longer. The house of lies creates its own parodies. The execrable late night news-comedy shows, whose last gasp of relevancy was ten years ago, never could have made a politician parody so on point as this even at their former heights. When our comedians drop the ball on parodic delivery, the people who they are supposed to be observing must stand up to the task.
You could make the case that right now, at this exact moment, George Santos is the single most illuminating figure in Congress. Much like how Raven, breaking out from the Old Man’s house with the sun in his beak, once lit up the sky of the Pacific Northwest. From that point onwards there was no going back to the willful ignorance of the murky world.