Call it a tale of two reactions.
Top-ranked Republican House leader Kevin McCarthy has remained silent amid damning revelations about a newly elected Republican’s fictional life. That is true despite reports that McCarthy previously endorsed widely debunked and racist reports that the first Black president of the United States was not born in America.
The apparent hypocrisy along partisan and racial lines was self-evident as Republican blowback has been all but nonexistent against George Santos, the New York Congressman-elect whose fine blend of personal and professional lies about his education, career and sexual orientation became unraveled in a New York Times exposé last week.
But it was McCarthy’s silence on Santos that spoke volumes the most because of the California congressman’s previous association with the so-called birther movement that persistently questioned the citizenship of President Barack Obama under false and racist pretenses.
Meanwhile, for Santos, “false” was apparently the operative word and the basis of his Congressional campaign.
His campaign biography amplified his storybook journey: He is the son of Brazilian immigrants, and the first openly gay Republican to win a House seat as a non-incumbent. By his account, he catapulted himself from a New York City public college to become a “seasoned Wall Street financier and investor” with a family-owned real estate portfolio of 13 properties and an animal rescue charity that saved more than 2,500 dogs and cats.
But a New York Times review of public documents and court filings from the United States and Brazil, as well as various attempts to verify claims that Mr. Santos, 34, made on the campaign trail, calls into question key parts of the résumé that he sold to voters.
Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, the marquee Wall Street firms on Mr. Santos’s campaign biography, told The Times they had no record of his ever working there. Officials at Baruch College, which Mr. Santos has said he graduated from in 2010, could find no record of anyone matching his name and date of birth graduating that year.
While the Times first reported that Dec. 19, nearly 10 days later, McCarthy — who’s made no secret of his ambitions to succeed Nancy Pelosi as the Speaker of the House — hasn’t offered a single public comment on the situation. (Santos has said, albeit in a deleted tweet, that he would vote for McCarthy.)
Similarly, McCarthy never publicly uttered any racist birther rhetoric about Obama that too many of his Republican colleagues supported. However, like with Santos, McCarthy’s actions speak much louder than words ever could.
It was in that context that it was reported in 2018 that McCarthy not only met with “birther activists” five years earlier, but he also did so in his own congressional office. At the time, McCarthy’s spokesperson said the congressman “has never agreed with claims challenging President Obama’s birth certificate.”
But one of the “birther activists” — Tom Pavich — who met with McCarthy begged to differ with that characterization.
Pavich told CNN that he had asked for the DC meeting in advance and that the activists were upfront about the reason for requesting the meeting. He said he brought up Obama’s Selective Service card at the meeting and showed McCarthy a video that made the case against Obama’s citizenship.
“I played to him the sections (of the video) showing the forged Selective Service card and the question about the postal stamp, how the postal stamp was forged, and congressman McCarthy’s jaw dropped. He just couldn’t believe that he hadn’t heard of that and he thanked me for bringing that to his attention and he told me he would look into it,” Pavich said.
“He told me specifically that he was going to request a copy of his own Selective Service application that was on record with the State Department, because he was curious, very curious about this,” Pavich added. Pavich said he met with McCarthy again in 2015 in DC and McCarthy said he had not yet gotten a copy of his Selective Service records.
Considering how reportedly grateful McCarthy was for being told the racist birther lie about Obama, the lack of similarly aggressive vetting of Santos’ stated biography of lies is stunning.
For the record, McCarthy also headlined a 2013 event with a “prominent birther.” McCarthy delivered the keynote address while on stage alongside Wayne Allyn Root, who wrote a book called The Ultimate Obama Survival Guide. Root also called Obama a “manchurian candidate,” a reference to an eponymous book and later a movie about a presidential candidate who was unknowingly mentally reprogrammed by a foreign power in order to commit treason against the U.S.
McCarthy never issued a statement condemning the event or Root.
Santos, for his part, has admitted without shame that he lied about his past. He also said he still planned to serve his full term in Congress no matter what anybody says.
This is America.