LONSBERRY: Stefanik Doesn't Belong In GOP Leadership


Liz Cheney I get.

               Elise Stefanik I don’t get.

               Cheney is divisive, and intolerant of fellow Republicans who see Donald Trump differently than she does. I can see why she should go.

               But I don’t see why Stefanik should get her job.

               I’m not sure how replacing a Colorado College alum with a government major from Harvard gets us farther from the swamp.

               And I’m not sure how an opportunistic Johnny-come-lately gets to be the face of Trump supporters in the House of Representatives. I’m not sure how a Republican whose voting record is more liberal and anti-Trump than a fair number of Democrats vaults to the Number 3 slot in the GOP caucus.

               And I’m not sure how someone who is about to be handed this plum, and immediately pledges to turn it loose in the next Congress, when it could possibly bring real power, is doing her constituents or her home state any good.

               And I’m not particularly reassured by an NRA rating that, after all, is exactly what Kirsten Gillibrand had in the House.

               In fact, if it weren’t for hair color, I’m not sure I could tell Kirsten Gillibrand and Elise Stefanik apart. Sometimes, looking at her career path, I think that Stefanik is a Gillibrand cover band.

               Big money, big power Albany families. Private girls schools whose annual tuition is more than my first house cost. Ivy League colleges – and real Ivy League, not Cornell. Then they wrapped themselves in jobs associated with political connections – Gillibrand with Andrew Cuomo and Hillary Clinton, Stefanik with George W. Bush and Paul Ryan.

               Then they each conveniently got an address in the sticks and became congresswomen of the North Country, with guns under the bed and chickens in the yard and as much backwoods bona fides as a Louis Vuitton purse. Because what upstate hillbillies need is rich people from the city representing them in Washington.

               And then Gillibrand and Stefanik were each plucked from anonymity and placed in prominence by powerful men – Uncle Al D’Amato in one case and Daddy Donald Trump in the other.

               Which brings us to today, and the choice before the Republicans in the House and the national party they represent. In the spirit of “measure twice, cut once,” and “look before you leap,” on the subject of Elise Stefanik becoming the third-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, can we simply stop for a moment and ask: Are you sure?

               And if we may be allowed a follow-up question: Why?

               What is it about this junior and fairly non-descript member of the caucus that makes her the third best in the House and the Republican face of the day?

               Yes, she defended Trump during the impeachment, and she voted with him after the election. But is it not possible that that was opportunism? Could that have been just her take on the Republican sport of the day – fleecing Trump supporters for juice and dollars? Have you followed her fund-raising exploitation of the new-found Trump proximity?

               Don’t you think that a Trump supporter might have, oh, I don’t know, voted for more of his agenda? Don’t you think a Trump supporter would have actually supported him? When the defining legislative initiative of his administration was before the Congress, and she voted against Trump, doesn’t that make you wonder?

               If the goal is to have a young woman who speaks for Trump supporters, don’t you kind of think Lauren Boebert and Marjorie Taylor Greene are a little more genuine and better suited? Don’t they eat, sleep and breathe freedom and America First all day every day? Aren’t they Trump to the bone? Aren’t they better and more inspiring voices for the portion of the Republican Party that gave it the White House five years ago?

               As it is, putting Elise Stefanik in leadership benefits no one but her.

               It pads her resume and helps her as she hopscotches to an ambassadorship or K Street or Fox News Channel, but it doesn’t unite or inspire the caucus, and – giving up the chair before the expected Republican capturing of the House in 2022 – brings no power or benefit to her district or the rest of ignored and economically depressed upstate New York.

               It’s nothing but a sop thrown to Donald Trump who, in this case, can’t quite recognize that he and his supporters are being played.

               Elise Stefanik is a blueblood, with the benefit of the best education and the best connections, and no doubt can be of use and service in a variety of settings.

               But this is a position in leadership.

               And she’s not a leader.

               So, yes, kick Liz to the curb. But let’s think again about who takes her place.


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