Tuesday, June 18, 2024

Opinion | And his name shall be called George Santos

Opinion | And his name shall be called George Santos

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Unto us a star is … taken

Now cracks a noble heart. George Santos, once congressman from New York, has officially been expelled from the House of Representatives. Good-night, sweet prince; and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.

I might have found the drama this week surrounding the brazen, mendacious, entrancing Santos to be Shakespearean, but our columnists considered it downright biblical. This week, Alexandra Petri wrote of “the passion of George Santos”; Dana Milbank wrote of his “last temptation.” Lord, have mercy.

First, the gospel according to Dana, who chronicled the defiant final hours of the New York Republican. From the moment he poked “his Ferragamo-clad foot” out of a black Jaguar on Thursday morning to his final declaration pre-expulsion — “Take the vote. I am at peace.” — Santos delivered more of the mayhem that made him a household name.

But, behold, from the chaos was given unto us a truth: Santos decried this Congress as dysfunctional, ineffective and backbiting.

“I couldn’t have said it better,” Dana writes.

In Alexandra’s telling of the life and times of the self-styled “Mary Magdalene of the United States Congress,” “he wanted to leave anyway, because everyone in Congress was too corrupt and he was done with them.”

Funny, because a quick glance at the concordance shows some words that would suggest he fit right in: Botox, Hermes, fraud, election denial, OnlyFans, to name a few. Indeed, Alex writes, “Lo, the bar is here, but he has slid beneath even that bar.”

Perhaps, though, the problem was us. Could we simply not make room in our hearts for a man as grand as George Santos? The Lord did say (according to Alex), “He shall not be appreciated in his own time, nor in Washington.”

Maybe we’ll get another chance. As Dana reports, the ever-serving Santos said on his way out, “I wish I could do more.” (From prison, Dana asks?)

So with Advent’s season of holy anticipation now upon us, let the waiting for the next wonders begin.

Nikki Haley bides her time

Speaking of waiting, George Will writes that Nikki Haley has gotten very, very good at it. The former South Carolina governor’s “ascending candidacy” for the 2024 GOP nomination, he says, “is using tactical reticence to reach the right moment for becoming the last challenger standing against Donald Trump.”

Unlike many other commentators and armchair strategists, George doesn’t fault Haley for not yet tilting at Trump. She, unlike the peanut gallery, must apply her “principles to untidy realities” — namely, Trump’s fabulous popularity.

George suggests Haley schedule the head-on collision for Jan. 24, the morning after New Hampshire’s primary. At that point, he coaches, draw the differences and consolidate everyone looking for an alternative to the former president.

Is Haley really that different, though? Catherine Rampell writes that the supposed moderates in the GOP primaries might not foment an insurrection, sure, but they’d blow up government all the same. As she argues, “many of their policy proposals are essentially a warmed-over Trump agenda.”

Just look at Haley’s proposal to impose a five-year “term limit” on every federal employee. Do we really want to be replacing every single air traffic controller twice a decade?

This week was a difficult one for fans of Sports Illustrated writer Drew Ortiz. First, the magazine purged his entire archive. Second, it turned out he had never really existed; Drew Ortiz, like several other figures at the periodical, was a creation of artificial intelligence.

Rick Reilly had loved his, uh, idiosyncratic writing on volleyball (“a little tricky to get into, especially without an actual ball to practice with”) but now has to confront an uncomfortable truth: With the proliferation of AI writing, “journalism is getting faker than Velveeta.”

Let the mac-and-cheese metaphor continue: “If readers and viewers can’t trust us, then it all comes apart like a first-grade macaroni tree.”

Josh Tyrangiel plays a little devil’s advocate here (easy to get into, even without an actual devil to practice with). He notes that Mr. Ortiz’s volleyball pablum was an article meant to drive sales of volleyballs, of which Sports Illustrated would get a cut.

If that’s going to be part of the SI portfolio, Josh asks, “shouldn’t humans do ambitious, unconflicted journalism and let AI do the grubby stuff?”

Now zoom out. We’re not going to box out AI everywhere; Josh suggests we get smart about picking our battles.

  • Sandra Day O’Connor, first woman on the Supreme Court, has died. Biographer Evan Thomas writes that the keys to her power were civility and self-restraint.
  • From India, a government official allegedly hatched a plot to murder an American, the Editorial Board writes. Now what?
  • Megan McArdle explains why Hollywood seems to be losing interest in its social justice initiatives. (It’s got a lot to do with — surprise! — money.)

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

Plus! A Friday bye-ku (Fri-ku!) from reader Barry C.:

Santos goes on money hunt;

Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. Have a great weekend!

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