George Santos has truly become a gift to House Democrats
When you’re trying to judge just how wide of an impact any given political scandal is or isn’t having, it can be particularly useful to look far outside the world of politics. Obviously, by nature, every political scandal is going to get some airtime on cable news and is going to see some action on social media. But the scandals that really have an impact are the ones that manage to break beyond the political enthusiast bubble and get traction in places where you’d least expect it.
That’s why it really stood out when Playbill.com, a site that covers Broadway plays, posted an article mocking House Republican George Santos for his false claim that he produced a Spider-Man musical. Yes, Santos put himself into Broadway musical headline territory when he got caught falsely taking credit for one of them. But let’s be real here. There are 435 House members, and the average American can’t even name 35 of them. Yet George Santos has become such a punchline in a way that so transcends mere politics, even news outlets that solely cover Broadway are now rightfully dunking on him.
Meanwhile the rest of the House Republican caucus is busy spreading lies about Dr. Fauci, Hunter Biden, the debt ceiling, and any other strategic lies they can come up with – but those lies are getting almost zero mainstream traction. Part of that is because these increasingly dimwitted Republicans aren’t nearly as good at the whole dishonest strategy thing as their predecessors of ten or twenty years ago were. But another part of it is that the endless negative headlines about George Santos are sucking all the oxygen out of the room.
In other words, no one out there cares what Kevin McCarthy and Jim Jordan are saying, because real life cartoon villain George Santos is getting all the headlines and attention just by being George Santos (or whatever his name is this week). So there’s really no way for House Republicans to push the lies that they want to push, so long as they keep Santos around – and yet they can’t really afford to get rid of him.
House Republicans have a five seat majority. If they were to expel George Santos tomorrow, it wouldn’t cost them the majority. But it could cost Kevin McCarthy his speakership, given that he was elected by a margin much slimmer than five votes. And assuming the Democrats win the special election to replace Santos, House Republicans would find themselves with just a four seat majority. What if DOJ Special Counsel Jack Smith takes down a few more House Republicans later this year? At some point their majority could cease to exist.
Getting rid of Santos now could really come back to bite House Republicans, now or later. And yet as long as they keep him around, it’ll help keep their agenda from getting anywhere. For that matter, because House Republicans are refusing to get rid of Santos, every negative headline about him is by default a negative headline about them. If Santos does somehow last awhile, he’ll be hanging around the neck of every House Republican in a competitive district in the next election.
In that sense George Santos is truly a gift to House Democrats. He’s a daily scandal for House Republicans, in a way that makes them all look bad and derails their intended agenda. All the Democrats have to do is keep weaponizing Santos against the entire House Republican caucus. House Republicans would probably have been better off if they’d lost the Santos election to begin with – but now they don’t have the guts to get rid of him.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report