FILE - Rep.-elect George Santos, R-New York, speaks at an...

FILE - Rep.-elect George Santos, R-New York, speaks at an annual leadership meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, Nov. 19, 2022, in Las Vegas. Weeks after winning a district that helped Republicans secure their razor-thin House majority, the congressman-elect Santos is under investigation in New York after acknowledging he lied about his heritage, education and professional pedigree as he campaigned for office. (AP Photo/John Locher, File) Credit: AP/John Locher

A reporter left a message on Thursday morning. “You know why I’m calling,” he said. “Give me a ring back when you get a chance.”

He was inquiring about Long Island Congressman-elect George Santos, of course. Who else would he be calling about this week?

By the time I returned the call a half-hour later, three additional reporters had left messages asking what various Republicans I work with have to say about Santos’ serial mendacity. Other GOP consultants, officials and staffers have been peppered with daily press calls about Santos as well.

Thanks, George. Way to be a team player.

When I started working in politics during the Reagan era, a cardinal rule was drilled into the head of every newbie Republican operative: What you do reflects on everyone else now; don’t do anything that would embarrass the Party. The admonition applied to candidates, too. If candidate x lies, steals or cheats, candidates a, b, c — and all the way down the line — have to answer for his actions. That’s just the way party politics works, so don’t be candidate x.

Santos, 34, never got that message. The lesson he learned in his political youth comes directly from the Trump era: Say anything, do anything, apologize for nothing. As long as you’re infuriating the libs and the news media, the Party will have your back.

Imagine Santos’ surprise, then, when Republican Nassau County District Attorney Anne Donnelly announced Wednesday that her office has opened a criminal inquiry into Santos’ past. Kudos to her.

Other Republicans have thankfully stepped forward to question Santos’ credibility as well, though House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy understandably has had to equivocate. McCarthy needs Santos’ vote in his bid to become Speaker next month — a cold, hard political reality — but after that he should wash his hands of Santos by allowing a congressional ethics panel to look into the young man’s ridiculous biographical and financial claims. Santos has shown utter disrespect to his GOP colleagues; he deserves no quarter from the Party.

Santos’ public implosion comes on the heels of another political boondoggle in New York. Earlier this month, a deeply immature group calling itself the New York Young Republican Club invited far-right political pariahs from Europe and the U.S. to a black-tie dinner in Manhattan, making sure to leak its plans widely to the press. Did the club think that was funny? It certainly wasn’t helpful to those actually trying to elect Republicans to office in New York. But the leaders of this renegade YR group have never cared much about the ballot box. Like so many on the political left, they sustain themselves on petty grievances. It should come as no surprise that Santos was one of the dinner’s featured guests.

I almost felt sorry for George Santos for a moment this week. I thought, here’s a guy whose whole life has been a lie, and now, on a national stage, it’s all unraveling. Then I saw his Fox News interview with former Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard and the forgiving Catholic in my head was silenced. Redemption comes to those who are sorry. The only thing Santos appears sorry for is that he was caught.

Santos’ sole utility at this point is in serving as an example to other young politicos. He’s living proof that the misdeeds of one candidate can hurt the whole Party.

Now where have I heard that before?

  

 OPINIONS EXPRESSED BY WILLIAM F. B. O’REILLY, a consultant to Republicans, are his own.

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