The Wackiest Political Stories of 2023

By Eric Levitz

Few people know this today, but popular Cameo performer and noted criminal George Santos once served in the U.S. Congress. During his brief and improbable time in political life, Santos did many odd things, such as spend campaign funds on porn and botox injections, falsely claim his niece had been kidnapped by Chinese communists, and argue that his consequent pariah status on Capitol Hill made him a lot like Rosa Parks.

But the most sublimely disorienting moment of Santos’s political career came in October. Confronted by activists protesting America’s support for Israel’s bombing of Gaza, the self-described “Jew-ish” congressman erupted into a furious tantrum, deriding the agitators as terrorist sympathizers. Santos’s tirade was so volcanic, it took some observers a moment to realize that the representative was holding a two-month-old infant as he shouted. Asked whether the baby was his, Santos said only, “not yet.”

Although the remark was likely in jest, it was difficult to be sure. After all, if Santos’s various compulsions and personality disorders hadn’t stopped him from securing a seat in Congress, why would they necessarily prevent him from securing guardianship of someone else’s baby? Hadn’t he demonstrated his capacity to achieve the unthinkable through sheer audacity and determination? The moment therefore perfectly encapsulated the Santos moment in miniature: It was hilarious for such an absurd scoundrel to hold something as precious as a human infant (or political power), yet also, for that reason, vaguely menacing.

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