Donald J. Santos, Donald Trump, George Santos
Donald J. Santos. Photo credit: Illustration by WhoWhatWhy from US House / Wikimedia and Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 2.0 DEED).

Santos was only playing follow the leader!

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Booted from Congress and facing a possible long prison sentence, George Santos is feeling sorry for himself. Oddly, I too have lately been feeling sorry for George Santos. 

Here’s why. 

This bizarre political foundling thought it was okay to widely fabricate accomplishments, jobs, financial prowess, family greatness, and much more. 

Why did he think so? Well, because the boss told him that was the way things go. 

The boss? The leader of the Republican Party, MAGA, and all such things, our former and possibly future president, Donald Trump. 

Santos may have been an incomparable fabricator, but it wasn’t like he didn’t have a role model. Just look at what he and Trump have in common:

Both are serial fabricators; having achieved little or nothing, they claim to have done great things. 

Both are obsessed with their appearance, and indulge in expensive hairdressers, cosmetics, plastic surgery, and designer clothes.

Both have even lied about their ancestry.

Both cheat as a way of life, stealing from both the very rich and the poorest, most vulnerable people.

Both have bizarre sex lives, to use a charitable term

Both are delusional, narcissistic, psychopathic. 

Both would say anything to garner support or win votes. Both seemingly don’t actually believe in anything. 

Both are aggressive and vindictive toward others. 

Both have infinite faith in their ability to continue conning others.


Since someone much more powerful and much more “successful” has thus far gotten away with a similar scam on a far greater scale and for many more years — it might just be that Santos could offer this as a defense in his upcoming legal embroilments. 

He could also point to all those institutional enablers, from the Republican National Committee to Twitter/X to Fox News, who cooperated, enabled, and helped scale the scam. 

Even the mainstream media did its part, allowing Trump, a man of truly limited skills and accomplishments, to persuade a sizable chunk of the public that he was an awesome celebrity to be admired and fit to lead us all. 

So, Santos could base his defense on a particularly virulent form of Trump Derangement Syndrome. He could argue that he was/is an impressionable young man who, noting that the president of the United States was a serial fabulist, assumed this was an acceptable and perhaps even honorable course of action. 

That such behavior — being a liar and a hypocrite and making things up routinely — is the way you get ahead nowadays in the United States. 

Trump of course is the model for this — Trump’s own base seems to adore his brazenness, his shamelessness. Just claiming any old thing about oneself, and then being aggressive in defending oneself against all comers. 

And of course, just as Santos goes aggressively and unapologetically after those who call him out for his falsehoods, Trump did the same — and before Trump there were other “mentors,” like Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn. 

All of this fits under the broader rubric of a long-standing national tradition of patent medicine sellers, faith healers, counterfeiters, identity-swipers, and so many other archetypes. 

It is this core criminality, a failure to be honest with oneself and with all others, that is at the root of the entire MAGA/Moms for Liberty/gun rights establishment that holds so much sway today. 

Lies, and their psychological partner, self-delusion, are the currency of this country at this perilous moment.  


  • Russ Baker

    Russ Baker is Editor-in-Chief of WhoWhatWhy. He is an award-winning investigative journalist who specializes in exploring power dynamics behind major events.

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