Friday, February 10, 2023


The Washington Post's story about questionable details in the biography of newly elected Republican congresswoman Anna Paulina Luna isn't nearly as enjoyable as the ongoing George Santos saga. (The latest on Santos is that bad checks written on his account were passed to Amish dog breeders in exchange for puppies, which were then advertised as rescue dogs; when Santos spoke to prosecutors about the checks, he claimed to work for the Securities and Exchange Commission and the charges against him were dropped.) Nevertheless, Luna's story involves quite a bit of reinvention, if not quite a Santos-level personal reboot:
Twelve years before she was elected as the first Mexican American woman to represent Florida in Congress, Anna Paulina Luna was serving at Whiteman Air Force Base in Warrensburg, Mo., where friends said she described herself as alternately Middle Eastern, Jewish or Eastern European. Known then by her given last name of Mayerhofer, Luna sported designer clothing and expressed support for then-President Barack Obama.

By the time she ran for Congress as a Republican, she had changed her last name to Luna in what she said was an homage to her mother’s family. A staunch advocate for gun rights, she cited on the campaign trail a harrowing childhood that left her “battle hardened.” She said she and her mother had little extended family as she grew up in “low-income” neighborhoods in Southern California with a father in and out of incarceration. She said she experienced a traumatizing “home invasion” when she was serving in the Air Force in Missouri.

Luna’s sharp turn to the right, her account of an isolated and impoverished childhood, and her embrace of her Hispanic heritage have come as a surprise to some friends and family who knew her before her ascent to the U.S. House this year. A cousin who grew up with Luna said she was regularly included in family gatherings. Her roommate in Missouri had no recollection of the “home invasion” Luna detailed, describing instead a break-in at their shared apartment when they were not home, an incident confirmed by police records. And three years before her first congressional bid as a conservative, Luna registered to vote as a Democrat in Washington state, voting records show.
The onetime Democrat and Obama fan had turned into this by the time of her first congressional campaign, as a Florida Republican, in 2020:

This kind of thing seems to be happening a lot these days: a person who's had greater-than-average difficulties in establishing a self, and whose personal reinventions are accompanied by dishonesty or psychologically unhealthy behavior, ultimately finds mental peace and societal validation as an enemy of liberalism. In the past, people like this ended up in cult religions. Now they show up on Fox News.

Consider Tara Reade, who struggled through a series of career changes and left a trail of acquaintances feeling burned by her Santos-like dishonesty, then ultimately found fame as a (Putin-adjacent) alleged victim of sexual harassment (or was it assault?) by Joe Biden. Her story kept changing, and was rejected by dozens of former Biden staffers, but she found support among Democrat-haters on the right and the left.

Or consider Marjorie Taylor Greene, who was leading an ordinary suburban life until her marriage began to fall apart and she discovered (in approximately this order) extreme fitness, QAnon, right-wing media self-promotion, and the cult of Donald Trump. There's now a non-zero chance that she'll be president of the United States or Speaker of the House someday.

Or consider Candace Owens, who ran a liberal-ish blog that was critical of Donald Trump and other Republicans, then ran a site intended to doxx online bullies, at which point she was doxxed herself; she blamed progressives, then began to win the favor of Gamergaters and the rest of the online right. Soon she announced a conversion to Trumpist conservatism and now she's a right-wing superstar.

We could even go back to the George W. Bush years, when a professional gay escort born James Dale Guckert became Jeff Gannon, a member of the White House press corps and fawning Bush fan.

There's a place for all these people because (a) America is full of liberal-hating rage junkies and (b) there is a well-financed instrastructure that supports anyone, however emotionally unstable, with even a modest talent at sticking it to the libs.

Expect there to be more Santoses, Greenes, and Lunas in the future. The demand for them may be limitless.

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