Rep. George Santos resigned his seat on the Science, Space, and Technology Committee and on the Small Business Committee on Tuesday. When does President Joe Biden follow suit?
The president this week repeated the lie, reportedly for the eighth time, that a train conductor, a man he names as Joe Negri in some iterations of the story, congratulated him for logging in more than a million miles, a longer distance than his Air Force 2 flights, on Amtrak. Negri, who knew and liked Biden, retired 16 years before Biden became vice president and died prior to Biden accumulating a million miles on Air Force 2.
If the dates of Negri’s retirement and passing do not convince, then perhaps simple arithmetic does. The president would have to ride from Washington to Wilmington on Amtrak every day for 25 years for him to log a million miles and for much longer than that to surpass his Air Force 2 odometer.
The fib represents the latest escalation in an ongoing tit-for-tat between Biden and secret nemesis Santos.
Astute political observers notice the passive-aggressive one-upmanship taking place between these fierce rivals. The game proceeds in subtle fashion. One of the parties to this publicly unacknowledged competition spins a yarn, which invariably elicits — sometimes immediately, sometimes years or even decades later — a more elaborate cock-and-bull story told by the other. One, compulsively almost, must outdo the other.
Santos tweeted that “9/11 claimed my mother[’]s life.” She died of cancer in Brazil in 2016. Biden countered that his son “lost his life in Iraq.” He died of cancer in Maryland in 2015.
Biden boasted to a voter that he won “the outstanding student in the political science department” at the University of Delaware, where he “graduated with three degrees,” before going “to law school on a full academic scholarship” and finishing “in the top half.” He did not win that award, graduate with three degrees, receive a full academic scholarship, or finish in the top half of his class. Santos responded more than three decades later that he graduated in the top 1 percent of his class at Baruch College before earning a master’s at NYU.
Did you hear how Joe played football at the University of Delaware? Well, George blew out both knees competing on the Baruch volleyball team. Top that.
Santos generated credibility among Republican voters on Long Island by concocting a career at Goldman Sachs and Citigroup. Biden, to establish blue collar bona fides, retaliated by falsely maintaining, “I used to drive a tractor-trailer, so I know a little bit about driving big trucks.”
Santos long insisted on a Jewish background. Biden touted being “sort of raised in the Puerto Rican community at home.”
Biden looked across the Atlantic to expropriate Neil Kinnock’s family story in pointing to “my ancestors who worked in the coal mines in northeast Pennsylvania and would come up after 12 hours and play football for four hours.” Game on. Santos bettered Biden’s class oppression by invoking racial oppression in basing his family history on the worst chapter in European history. He claimed that his “grandparents survived the Holocaust.”
Cynics remotely diagnose the foes as pathological liars. But maybe they just see politics more clearly, truthfully even, than the rest of us. Biden and Santos regard deceit as the sine non qua of their profession. Politicians lie. That’s what they do. Denying this seems as gullible as ignoring that writers periodically tell tall tales to make a point.
Each man commits himself so zealously to his vocation that he aims to be the best at what politicians are most known for. The fierce competitors correctly understand politics as neither the art of the possible nor the mathematics of arriving at 50-plus-one but a profession dedicated to telling bold lies frequently. Do the politicians you see and hear better conform to the conception envisioned by Biden and Santos or to the one advanced by the I-cannot-tell-a-lie model presented by the fabulist Parson Weems?
In recent weeks, the Long Island congressman’s whoppers appear designed to make it impossible for Biden to match. Santos ratchets up this protracted contest. He clearly wants to, once and for all, win. For example, Santos, who fibbed about performing as a drag queen in Brazil, now admits to dressing up as a woman by saying, “I had fun at a festival.”
Your move, Mr. President.