Mitt Romney’s abuse of George Santos before the President’s State of the Union address is about as good as it gets in the land of Republicans these days. With Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger out of Congress it’s the closest thing to courage we are ever going to see from a Republican.
Apparently, according to some superb lip reading, Romney told Santos “You ought to be embarrassed,” several times. Then Romney called Santos an “ass.”
In a later walking press interview after the SOTU, Romney said “I didn’t expect [Santos would] be standing there trying to shake hands with every senator and the President of the United States. Given that he’s under ethics investigation he ought to be sitting in the back row and staying quiet.”
In response, Santos later told reporters Romney’s remarks were “reprehensible” and said the senator’s behavior “wasn’t very Mormon.” As a Utah born ex-Mormon I think I can weigh in on this topic with some legitimate personal insight.
First a thumbnail background. I was baptised a member of the “Latter Day Saints” when I was eight years old according to the standard formula. I didn’t choose it but it was done to me. My membership was purely titular. When I was 17 I became a “born again evangelical” and, disavowing my roots with the Mormon Church, was soon excommunicated, or disfellowshipped in the Mormon vernacular.
So I can’t say I’ve ever been what George Santos refers to as very Mormon, but I can tell you what Romney said to him was in keeping with the type. The Mormons I’ve known in my life were forthright, hardworking and honest. Romney’s remarks to George Santos, in that regard, were pretty damned Mormon.
One thing about Romney’s action Tuesday night I do regret a little. I think it’s possible that Romney may have warned Santos away from any attempt to shake Joe Biden’s hand. It would have been wonderful to see the President of the United States snub Santos, or better yet, tell Santos to go to hell. I’m sure Romney shook Santos up a bit and thus prevented that eventuality. Pity.
But what keeps the whole thing pure in my mind is that the exchange between the two men wasn’t meant for the cameras. There were no reporters with microphones standing by. It was just a passing exchange that could have easily been missed. Luckily it was picked up by a stray camera — and lip reading did the rest.
Another thing that gives me a peculiar insight into the whole Santos affair is my experience with malignant narcissists. I am convinced that Santos is a narcissist, so I have a pretty good idea what’s going on with him, and I think this might surprise you a bit.
You see, as far as I know, Santos was born in the United States. That means, technically speaking, he satisfies the first of two Constitutional requirements for President of the United States. The first is that he is a naturally born citizen. The second requirement he will satisfy in July when he turns 35.
I think not only does Santos believe that he’s going to survive these peculiarly rough times he’s having in Congress right now, but that he believes he will one day be President. No really, I think he believes that. I think he really is that far gone into the land of fantasy.
If you think that’s impossible then you have probably never had any experience with narcissists before. Also, remember this. Donald Trump is a narcissist and look how far it brought him. And, as ever, ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, comrades and friends, stay safe.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.