Lessons from the Fall of Elise Stefanik

Never go Full Devin Nunes.

IT TOOK A SINGLE AFTERNOON for House Intelligence member Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York’s 21st district, to mortally wound her political career. All the Harvard graduate had to do was join the fray of analphabetic asses braying their lies about the Ukraine scandal in front of the TV cameras. Stefanik calculated that by aping Donald Trump, she would gain notoriety (Nunes, it should be pointed out, made a similar calculation in 2016):

She’s gained notoriety, alright, but not the good kind. Frau Fascism went Full Devin Nunes—to whom she bears an uncanny physical resemblance—and America was outraged. Her opponent in NY21, Tedra Cobb, raised more than half a million bananas in 24 hours, and gained over 200,000 Twitter followers since Friday.

This is good for several reasons. First, it puts a district—one very close to my home—very much in play. Stefanik will have to raise quite a bit more money than she thought to catch up with Cobb. The GOP may have to help out, which will deprive them of funds elsewhere. By November of next year, her association with Trump, an unforced error on her part, will likely be too much to overcome at the polls.

Too, Stefanik will now be under the microscope like never before. Muckraking journalists and oppo researchers will ask uncomfortable questions. If she’s having an affair, or involved in shady real estate deals, or took illegal campaign funds from friends of Russian oligarchs, or once attended a NXIVM seminar in nearby Albany, we will hear about it.

Finally, and most importantly, Elise Stefanik is now an object lesson for any other GOP who might get the bright idea to pipe up and start flinging feces in the hallowed House chamber. There is a reason they moved Jim Jordan to the Intelligence Committee, and it has nothing to do with intelligence. They need another loudmouthed baboon to disrupt the proceedings. House Republicans may be wary of coming out against Trump, but that doesn’t mean the President will enjoy their full-throated allegiance. After what happened to Stefanik, GOP members will be much less likely to offer more than tepid, perfunctory statements of support. Once we consider the Devin Nunes, Jim Jordans, Matt Gaetzes, and the handful of other well-known deplorables from presumably safe red districts, Trump will find few takers eager to walk the plank like Stefanik just did.

Elise Stefanik tried to show out for Donald Trump. She wound up helping our side, and possibly destroying her own political career. As Rick Wilson so presciently put it, “Everything Trump touches dies.”

Photo credit: Rep. Elise Stefanik, a Republican from New York, following testimony from former US Ambassador to Ukraine Marie Yovanovitch before the House Intelligence Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)