The Mad Delusion of Overscrupulous Republicans

Recently I’ve been thinking about the Latin aphorism, Quos Deus vult perdere prius dementat, “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad.” Contrary to what is widely believed, this well-known statement may not be of ancient origin. It may have originated among 18th-century English authors, although there is a reference in Sophocles’ Antigone to the gods driving those who are already doomed toward delusion.

These somber thoughts about madness and doom came to mind as I was reflecting on the latest attempt of Republican virtue-signalers (and unfortunately there are many of them) to shoot themselves in the head. There is now a deafening din from both parties that George Santos, who serves New York’s 3rd Congressional District, should resign from the House of Representatives because he is alleged to have committed fraud. Santos also notoriously mischaracterized himself as Jewish, although he is technically Catholic and claims without convincing evidence to have had a grandmother who suffered in the Holocaust. Clearly Santos is not a statesman distinguished by personal integrity, and he is not a person whose friendship I would seek.

But Santos does perform an indispensable task for Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and other Republicans in the House. He has voted with them on key issues, and his vote has been extremely valuable given the razor-thin majority with which the Republican speaker is forced to operate. Since the Republicans are holding on to a 10-seat majority in the House, giving up Santos’ seat would hurt them gravely. McCarthy can’t count on carrying along all Republicans on critical votes; and if Santos were to resign over money laundering and fraud charges, his seat would most certainly fall to a very left-leaning Democrat, in a district that is heavily Democratic as well as heavily Jewish. The person who may be the shoe-in favorite to take Santos’ seat in another election held in New York’s 3rd district is a former State Senator Anna Kaplan.

Kaplan, who is of Iranian Jewish descent, is playing up her Jewish lineage, which she contrasts to the false ethnic claims made by Santos, who is of Brazilian Catholic ancestry. The Democratic candidate claims in a video to have suffered because of her ethnicity in her native Iran. As a child, she explains, she was forbidden to touch the fruits and vegetables displayed on street stands. Kaplan’s grievance raises obvious questions. For example, how did the fruit-stand owners determine that Anna was Jewish; and should we assume that these merchants allowed Muslim children to finger their goods? 

Of course, Kaplan may have guessed correctly that her tale of woe will resonate in her district. Not surprisingly, there is nothing in her enthusiastic embrace of LGBT that is in any way compatible with the teachings of Hebrew Scripture; nor is there much in her rhetoric (except perhaps for her support of Israel) that would distinguish Kaplan from the Squad. Do our GOP moralists, including pecksniffian critics in the GOP, believe Santos should resign in favor of this likely successor? 

Allow me to suggest a fair exchange. Santos should leave his post if the Democrats meet the following conditions. Biden should be forced to resign because of his scandalous influence-peddling, evidence for which his media handmaidens have tried desperately to hide. Representative Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) should be made to leave the House for sharing government information with a Chinese Communist spy, the alluring Fang Fang, whom the Chinese regime used to tempt the easily seduced congressman. Equally suitable for the chopping block is Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who lied outrageously and repeatedly about holding material that proved Donald Trump conspired with the Russian government. We might also ask for Rep. Maxine Waters’ (D-Calif.) head, because of her practice of inciting riots among those who are receptive to her incoherent demagoguery. During the Los Angeles riot in 1992 and again after the death of George Floyd in 2020, Waters quite plainly encouraged black violence, something her party allowed her to get away with.

But perhaps we shouldn’t demand too much, lest we behave “immoderately.” Having Biden, Swalwell, and Schiff removed from the House in return for allowing Santos to be replaced by Kaplan should be enough to satisfy our sense of justice. Fortunately, the GOP may already be learning to play hardball, something that the investigations of Rep. James Comer’s (R-Ky.) committee would seem to indicate. These legislators shouldn’t allow themselves to be diverted from their work by those who urge them to exhibit “good manners.” 

Even if a combination of Santos’ misdeeds and blunders and the media’s own partisanship make it hard for this congressman to hold on to his seat, and even if New York’s 3rd Congressional District must be surrendered to the woke Left in 2024, the Republicans should stop piling on to their doomed foot soldier. Santos is still serving their needs, and the only reason the opposition is screaming against him in hypocritical rage is their hope of reducing the slim Republican majority in the House to the point where it becomes unworkable. One has to be truly deluded in the ancient Greek sense not to notice this. 

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About Paul Gottfried

Paul Edward Gottfried is the editor of Chronicles. An American paleoconservative philosopher, historian, and columnist, Gottfried is a former Horace Raffensperger Professor of Humanities at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, as well as a Guggenheim recipient.

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