There’s only one thing to call the new Biden scandal: political malpractice Missed-news

It’s scandal season in Washington. (When isn’t it?) For weeks, the saga of George Santos, the incoming Long Island congressman who faked just about everything, has delivered a salacious mix of near-daily revelations and Republican squirming. In a city full of liars, the Republican newcomer turns out to be truly world class. His resume was forged. His religion was a lie. He was not, it now seems clear, the grandson of Holocaust survivors. (Well, he said he, when challenged, he meant that he was “Jewish“, not Jewish.) He did not graduate from college or work at Goldman Sachs. This week, we learned that he lied about his mother being in the Twin Towers on 9/11. He was even charged with stealing $3,000 from a GoFundMe that was set up to save a homeless veteran’s dying dog.

Now multiple investigations have been launched into various unanswered questions, such as where Santos, a Donald Trump superfan who did not list assets to speak of in 2020, obtained hundreds of thousands of dollars to lend to his campaign two years later. On Thursday, Andrew Kaczynski, one of the reporters tracking his deception trail, published a list of the different names Santos went by in his various scams: Anthony Santos; Jorge Santos; Anthony Devolder; George Anthony Devolder; George Devolder; Jorge AD Santos; Antonio Zabrovsky; George Anthony Santos Devolder. As a con man, the thirty-four-year-old who may or may not have had an alternate life as a drag queen in Brazil puts even Trump and his former John Barron’s Routine Embarrass.

But, politics being what it is, House Republicans have decided to appoint him to Congress in good standing anyway. This week, despite the new revelations, he was offered two committee assignments, on the Small Business and Science, Space and Technology panels. The explanation is simple mathematics: Kevin McCarthy, the new House speaker, has such a small majority that he cannot afford to lose Santos’s vote. As for McCarthy, Santos is an issue the people of New York’s Third Congressional District must face in the upcoming election.

The biggest problem, from McCarthy’s perspective, is that the Santos scandal is a distraction from all the other scandals—Democratic scandals, which Republicans hope to focus political attention on in 2023, using the considerable powers that come with their new control over the House. Call it revenge, or payback, or just politics as usual. Its target list includes alleged “weaponry” against Trump and conservatives from the FBI, the Justice Department and other parts of the federal government. It’s such a vast conspiracy, according to hardline Republicans, that they demanded, in exchange for his support in the presidential race, that McCarthy dedicate an entire subcommittee to him. Further investigations unleashed in the name of congressional oversight are likely to place uncomfortable scrutiny on the Biden Administration’s failed withdrawal from Afghanistan, its enforcement of border policies, and its handling of the COVID-19-19 epidemics.

Also in the spotlight will be one of Trump’s great obsessions from his 2020 campaign: Hunter Biden’s laptop, which has become Republican shorthand for another radical conspiracy, this one involving the president’s son, alleged complicity. of liberal media and Ukrainian and Chinese influence peddling in the alleged cover-up, and various additional issues that I don’t understand or am forgetting. The transparent goal here is not to take down the president’s son; is to go after the president himself. “This is a Joe Biden investigation,” said James Comer, the Kentucky Republican who is the new chairman of the House oversight committee. saying.

Biden, as everyone now knows, has become a much bigger target in recent weeks, ever since it was revealed that, like Trump, he kept classified documents at his home and at the think tank’s office after leaving the Vice presidency. in 2017. The president, who has mocked his opponents in Congress as “ultra WIZARDThe extremists will now have to answer your questions about why their situation differs from Trump’s. That awkward juxtaposition was made even more problematic by Biden’s own decision, in a “60 Minutes” interview last September, to criticize Trump for his conduct, apparently without having the good sense to first check whether he, too, might be. sitting in some top secret roles. “How could someone be so irresponsible?” Biden wondered at the time. How indeed?

In the ten days since news of the classified documents was released to the public, neither Biden nor his advisers have done a remotely credible job of answering even basic questions: How many documents were found? Why did it take so long to find them after Biden left office? And why, once they were found in searches on November 2 and December 20, did it take so long to publicly reveal their existence? For the current state of Biden’s explanation, Washington post office Thursday offered this extensive report, which is long on details but short, it seemed to me, on convincing excuses. A special Justice Department counsel has already been appointed to more authoritatively answer these questions, most importantly, whether there was any real wrongdoing or whether it was, as Biden’s defenders have been quick to claim, simply carelessness and disorganization. House Republicans, of course, have seized on the revelations to discredit both Biden and the ongoing investigation of Trump’s classified stash at Mar-a-Lago. Meanwhile, the Democratic response can mostly be summed up by the loud groans I heard whenever the topic was brought up. That, and lamentations like “How can they be so stupid?”

This Friday marks the second anniversary of the Biden presidency. For the most part, so far, he has been more unlucky than stupid, his tenure marked by intertwined crises that would test any chief executive, including a lingering pandemic, the highest inflation in decades, and a radicalized Republican Party has refused to disavow Trump and his lies about the 2020 election. Democrats have, for decades, feared that conservative Supreme Court justices would overturn Roe v. Wade, and with it the guarantee of reproductive freedom for women. It finally happened under Biden’s watch. In Europe, Vladimir Putin has long threatened Russia’s neighbor Ukraine, but it was at the start of Biden’s second year in office that Putin unleashed the biggest ground war in Europe since World War II.

Given such a dreamy moment, the perennially optimistic Biden hasn’t come of it too badly. Even with a Senate of fifty-fifty in recent years, he managed to pass a series of sweeping laws, boosting spending on infrastructure, health care, and climate change mitigation. He assembled and maintained a bipartisan coalition to send billions of dollars in military assistance to Ukraine. He has kept the threat of a recession at bay for now.

If anything, Republican overreach has offered Biden a political path out of the quagmire, with the 2022 midterm results far less catastrophic than expected, at least in part due to the GOP’s insistence on selecting backed extremists. by Trump as nominees in the battleground states. Trump himself has long been the most effective argument for the Democrats, and there’s a reason this cartoonish con man became the first incumbent since Herbert Hoover to lose the House, Senate and White House in just four years.

However, the past two weeks are a reminder that Democrats cannot simply count on Republican excess on behalf of Trump to get ahead. A blunder is a blunder, and this one by Biden, whether or not it matters so much to voters, who often don’t care about the scandals inside the Beltway that haunt us Washingtonians, will sink like minimal as self-deception. -Inflicted little political malpractice. The big news at the midpoint of his presidency is that Biden appears determined to run again, no matter how risky it may seem to put the fate of his Party — and the Republic — in the hands of a mistake-prone octogenarian. His opponents are real life insurrectionists. What if his luck really runs out next time? ♦

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