February 14, 2023 | Reading Time: 4 minutes
Imagine what it’s like to be pwned by Milquetoast Mitt
No one respects, and no one fears, George Santos.
Can you imagine getting told off by Mitt Romney? Can you imagine Mitt Romney telling you off, and then all the people around you are like, Oh damn snap!
Infamous for being a prude, Romney won’t swear. He’s offended when others do. The worst he’ll say is H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.
Literally. As in: “You, sir, can go to H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks!”
Yet when he bumped into George Santos during last week’s State of the Union address, TV cameras caught a side of Romney no one saw before. Whoa! Mitt’s face is kinda, no really red. Did he just cuss out Santos?
Turns out he didn’t cuss out Santos. Unless we mean in the mittest way Mitt ever mitted. Congressional reporters quickly pieced the scene together. Romney had told Santos, “You don’t belong here.”
Now, you gotta understand.
Here’s Mitt Romney, the milquetoastiest of all milquetoast senators from the Great State of Milquetoast whose habitual preciousness is so aggressive people fear saying H-E-L-L in front of him, telling Santos, directly and without a polite coat of varnish, that he doesn’t belong.
That’s as close as we’re going to get to seeing Romney discover his inner-most Jules Winnfield: “Respect, motherfucker, do you have it?”
What’s the point of George Santos?
I’m not going to recount Santos’ lies. (The Post’s chief fetishist of fact checking can wear himself out doing that if he cares to.) Recounting them lends greater credence to this figment of fugacity that is the Long Island congressman than this figment of fugacity deserves. So I won’t.
I do want to point out that, in the world of Washington Realpolitik, in which morality is an afterthought, there are three kinds. People you respect. People you fear. People you fear as well as respect on account fearing them invokes within you a special kind of respect.
There’s one. There’s the other. There’s both.
But rarely neither.
Only a special kind of terrible can do that. That’s saying something. You can’t throw a stone in DC without hitting a special kind of terrible.
No one respects Santos, not even Republican voters back home.
No one fears him, not even the House speaker who needs his vote.
Kevin McCarthy can’t afford losing votes, but he has nothing to fear from Santos. Where’s he going to go? Who doesn’t think he’s toxic?
Nowhere. No one.
If Santos were like Joe Manchin, he’d capitalize on his position. He’d flex his power. But Manchin is respected. He’s feared. He’s respected because he’s feared. What does Santos have that people want?
Nothing. Less than nothing.
Imagine being worth less than your lies.
Santos is a special kind of terrible – a politician without a base, scarcely a politician at all. What are sellers without buyers, shepherds without flocks, pop stars without fans? What would the point be?
What’s the point of George Santos?
Lies canceling the liar
I doubt he knows.
He is what he thinks the person in front of him wants. He’s a blank, a cipher, a fetish. There’s no there there. George Santos is never George Santos. George Santos is always already someone, something else.
Mitt Romney is many things – a former GOP presidential nominee, a former party standard bearer, a prude – but he’s never someone, something else. He knows who he is, and why. His capacity for lying is legend. (Just google “the mendacity of Mitt.”) But he’s always George Romney’s son. There’s a there there. Lies never canceled the liar.
Mitt Romney was the lone Republican senator who, at the end of his first impeachment trial, voted to remove Donald Trump from office. That decision cost him. But whatever he lost in respect he gained in fear. Here was a brave Republican among cowardly Republicans. Utah’s other senator, Mike Lee, showed no such courage. He voted to acquit.
Lee was respected, but never feared.
Never respected because feared.
The House Republicans were set to denounce Joe Biden for his handling of a Chinese spy balloon that floated over the US before being shot down last week by the US Air Force. But then Mitt Romney spoke.
“I believe that the administration, the president, our military and intelligence agencies, acted skillfully and with care,” he told reporters.
According to Rich Galant, they had initially planned “a resolution condemning the Biden administration for not bringing down the balloon sooner,” but switched “to condemn the government of China for sending the craft over US territory in the first place.”
Can you imagine anyone changing their minds, much less the House anarchists, after George Santos told them what he thinks?
All he can do is pwn himself
No one respects him. No one fears him.
No one respects him, because no one fears him.
Washington is full of liars. It’s full of special kinds of terrible. Santos can’t get either. He’s a special kind of special kind of terrible.
The thing about being a strong absence is that you’re going to get canceled by a strong presence. That strong presence doesn’t have to be that strong. A strong absence can be canceled even by a prude whose back goes up at the sound of the word H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks.
Santos can’t pwn, but he can deny getting pwned. That’s what he can be.
If he were really Jewish, instead of really “Jew-ish,” he might know that word is Yiddish for a worthless fool. He isn’t, though. He doesn’t.
All he can do is pwn himself.
John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.