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Inside politics

Santos’s lies are no surprise

Constant self-invention: George Santos. David Becker/Washington Post/Getty

George Santos, a recently elected Republican congressman, is a full-fat “fabulist”, says Marc Thiessen in The Washington Post. The 34-year-old has been exposed for not only fabricating his education and work history, but also lying that he had Jewish grandparents who survived the Holocaust. Yet for all the Democrats’ pearl-clutching, Santos has nothing on America’s “fabulist-in-chief”: Joe Biden. In his 1988 presidential campaign, the then-senator infamously stole, almost word for word, a speech by Labour leader Neil Kinnock, “adopting Kinnock’s family history as his own”. He has also lied about graduating “with three degrees from college”; about being arrested in apartheid South Africa on a visit to Nelson Mandela; about being detained at a civil rights march; and about being shot at in Iraq.

This constant self-invention works in America, says Dominic Lawson in The Sunday Times, because it’s a country that deeply believes “you can be whoever you want to be”. As one commentator has put it, American life “continuously emphasises its own artificiality in a way that reminds participants that, deep down, they are experiencing a story” – no surprise, given the country invented the movie business. As my grandmother, who accompanied her husband on business trips to the States, always told me: “Darling, every American thinks he is playing the starring role in a film about their own life.”