Better Know Elise Stefanik, Your New GOP Conference Chair: She's Terrible!

National Politics

New York House Rep. Elise Stefanik will replace Rep. Liz Cheney from Wyoming as GOP Conference Chair, the third highest-ranking Trump toady. Forty-six GOPers voted against her, but it's unclear if they are anti Big Lie or just think she's not crazy enough.

Stefanik clearly serves no master but her own ambition. She opposed the MAGA king when that seemed like a reasonable thing to do during the 2016 GOP primary. Then she tepidly endorsed him but without actually saying his name, as if that would summon him from the underworld. (We know the feeling!)

"Like my Democratic opponent, I will support my party's nominee in the fall,'' Stefanik said in the [2016] statement, referring to retired Army Col. Mike Derrick of Peru, Clinton County. "My primary focus is serving my constituents to the best of my ability and I'm proud to have spent my first term in Congress working to deliver on my campaign promise to bring new ideas and a new generation of leadership to Washington.''

Hey, she even said “Democratic" instead of “Democrat." RINO!

In October 2016, when people who still had faith in America assumed Hillary Clinton would easily beat Candidate Pussy Grabber, Stefanik's spokesperson Lenny Alcivar described her position as "I'm going to support the nominee of my party, but when I disagree with him, I'm going to stand up and talk about it." This was from a Roll Call article titled "Elise Stefanik's Cautious Dance With Trump." That dance was apparently the Lambada. Stefanik never stood up to the twice-impeached thug, but maybe she legitimately never disagreed with him, even when he attempted to overturn a democratic election he lost and sicced a violent mob on Congress.


On the moral alignment scale, Stefanik would qualify as Neutral Evil: "She is out for herself, pure and simple ... She has no love of order and holds no illusion that following laws, traditions, or codes would make her any better or more noble. On the other hand, she doesn't have the restless nature or love of conflict that a chaotic evil villain has."

The former White House squatter is obviously Chaotic Evil, but his enablers and sycophants, with few exceptions, are out for themselves, pure and simple. This is what confuses people like Lynne Sweet, the Washington Bureau Chief for the Chicago Sun-Times, who wrote an op-ed titled “What Happened To Elise Stefanik?" Nothing happened to her. She was always this way. There was just a time, pre-MAGA, where political advancement required at least the pretense of human decency.

I met Stefanik in the Spring of 2004, when she was an undergraduate student leader at Harvard University's Institute of Politics and I was an IOP fellow.

She was independent minded. Wonky. Smart. Not known as an ideologue. Down to earth. Well liked. A networker.

After graduating Harvard in 2006, she went to the George W. Bush White House, where she worked on the Domestic Policy Staff.

How could someone who worked for George W. Bush turn out so wrong? That's a real stumper. I'm sure Stefanik was “down to earth," “well liked" and (shudder) “a networker." These are not unusual traits to find in a sociopath.

Sweet notes that once in Congress, Stefanik "carved out a niche as a moderate." Stefanik represents New York's 21st Congressional District, which a Democrat held from 1993 until she flipped it in 2014. The Democratic presidential nominee also consistently carried the district until President Klan Robe. Stefanik has shifted with the winds, like that plastic bag in American Beauty that's supposed to be profound.

Charlotte Alter, senior correspondent at Time, interviewed Stefanik's former, non-MAGA friends for her book, The Ones We've Been Waiting For. She described in a Twitter thread the now irreconcilable rift between Stefanik and Melissa DeRosa, a top aide for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

In 2019, DeRosa told me that Stefanik was always "so morally supportive," even across political lines. DeRosa was one of only a handful of old classmates at her wedding.

"There have been times over the years when I have called her, practically in tears, saying, 'This just happened, I feel so beaten down, I don't know what to do anymore,'" DeRosa told me. "And she is so morally supportive and will be there to coach through whatever the issue is."

But later, during the impeachment trial, a rift began to grow between the two old friends. According to a source with knowledge of the convo, DeRosa called Stefanik as a friend and said she was concerned that "you can't come back from this."

Stefanik hit Cuomo hard during the pandemic last year, but that's why it's called politics and not a political pot luck. But the gloves came off, though, when Stefanik willingly promoted the Big Lie. DeRosa tweeted that her former friend was “complicit in an attempt to overthrow the United States Government. The effort resulted in five deaths, including a law enforcement officer." That's both “whoa!' and true. It's a far cry from 2019 when DeRosa called Stefanik her “little sister."

DeRosa's spokesperson told Alter that Stefanik “sold her soul to the Devil," who probably was able to make change. Stefanik's spokesperson countered that DeRosa was a "federal criminal" and "the most anti-woman disgraceful hack there is," calling her "the Ghislaine of New York State politics." (This is reportedly ... not untrue!) This friendship has soured to the light saber duel on a lava planet stage.

Alter also spoke with Caroline Mason, the headmistress of Stefanik's girl's school. Mason considered Stefanik her favorite student and the two remained close for years. She even helped officiate Stefanik's wedding. She once praised Stefanik's impeccable integrity but now she believes "something stronger took hold of her."

"She basically abandoned her own core values for a man who had no core values."

Stefanik's not submitting herself to the mad MAGA king out of love or even fear. She just believes this is the quickest route to power. Sure, she's lost the respect and admiration of her friends, colleagues, and mentors, but just like C. Montgomery Burns, Stefanik would eagerly sacrifice everything she has ... for a little more.

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Stephen Robinson

Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."

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