On Thursday, The Washington Post published a long, heavily researched piece about Republican Rep. George Santos’ former life in Brazil, and the details of his days as a Brazilian drag queen have been getting the most attention. They shouldn’t be.
Santos, widely known as a seemingly reflexive liar who fictionalized much of his life story when he ran for Congress, has long insisted that his Brazilian drag days did not happen, and only admitted to dressing up one single time, after a 2007 photograph surfaced to prove it. The Post includes that picture, and Santos looks pretty damn good for that being his first and supposedly only try. That makeup? Those eyebrows? Sure, buddy.
But the Post also interviews many, many people who say that Santos performed often as his alter ego, Kitara Ravache, which puts that particular question to rest. Either half of the Brazilian drag circuit is lying or Santos is, and I think we’ve all had enough experience with Santos at this point to know which of those two possibilities is more likely.
So that seems to be the big takeaway from the story so far, if you believe the internets. That’s because the Republican Party is currently engaged in an all-out campaign to demonize drag. It’s an absolutely vicious and delusional push that suggests drag shows are attempts to woo conservative children into “the gay lifestyle” just for the expanded fashion choices, and it comes as Republicans have decided that trans Americans are the easiest target among those who are LGBTQ+.
Every time a picture of Santos or former Mayor of New York City Rudy Giuliani in drag surfaces once again, it wreaks havoc on the conservative narrative because it reminds the public that drag used to be considered just a bit of fun, back when Bob Hope and Tim Conway and Robin Williams were doing it over and over again. Those blasts from the past prove that Republicans’ new claim that drag performances are “grooming” children is invented bullshit that none of these same conservative politicians believed back when they were the ones joining in.
But here’s the bigger takeaway from the Post’s story: Nearly everyone in George Santos’ life, from back when he was a Brazilian teenager to his move to the United States, agrees that he’s been a serial liar the whole time. They also accuse him of a long string of thefts (some petty and others not so much), as well as check-stealing and a $20,000 green-card scheme. At this point, the picture of Santos is quite fleshed out: The man is a con artist. He’s been a con artist for a very long time, a “charming and funny” man known for bragging about wealth he didn’t have and allegedly stealing from those he ingratiated himself with.
And this is current behavior, not ancient history. There’s no redemption arc that clips the lying and cheating short a decade ago. Santos is currently out on a $500,000 bond as he prepares to stand trial on charges of fraud, money laundering, and theft of public funds.
But while voters in Santos’ district want him gone, House Republican leaders aren’t pressuring him to resign. Indeed, Santos was a key vote in allowing House Speaker Kevin McCarthy to win his current post. They’re going to keep Santos around in his diminished, stripped-from-committee-assignment status for as long as they and he can hold out, and mostly because McCarthy needs that Republican vote.
There’s also the fact that booting a fellow Republican just because he’s been indicted would make for some awkward conversations as the party anxiously awaits the return of Dear Indicted Leader Donald Trump. Santos is lucky he entered Congress during a year when (allegedly) committing felonies could be considered patriotic, so long as you word the fundraising emails in the right way.
The far-right justices on Wisconsin’s Supreme Court just can’t handle the fact that liberals now have the majority for the first time in 15 years, so they’re in the throes of an ongoing meltdown—and their tears are delicious. On this week’s episode of “The Downballot,” co-hosts David Nir and David Beard drink up all the schadenfreude they can handle as they puncture conservative claims that their progressive colleagues are “partisan hacks” (try looking in the mirror) or are breaking the law (try reading the state constitution). Elections do indeed have consequences!
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