The answer to the question of what changed to turn Elise Stefanik from a fake-moderate Republican to a full MAGA Republican is, fundamentally, nothing:
In an important sense, Ms. Stefanik is right. Virtually no one who knows her believes she has any genuine attachment to Trump-style populism — unlike Mr. Trump’s earliest supporters, for example, or media figures like the Fox host Tucker Carlson. Indeed, over dozens of interviews, former aides, advisers and friends going back to Ms. Stefanik’s Harvard days struggled to identify any of her deeply held political beliefs at all. Most recalled, instead, her generic loyalty to the Republican Party, her intense competitiveness and her unerring ability to absorb what she thought people around her wanted and to reflect it back at them. Eager to advance, skilled at impressing more powerful figures with her intelligence and work ethic, she has spent years embedding herself wherever the action seems to be at the time. “She knows exactly what she’s signed up for,” said Kate Yearwood Young, a former friend from Harvard. “There was no radicalization.”
She’s an Ivy League brown-noser whose main skill is telling people in a position to advance her career what they want to hear. Her career progression is completely logical.
I’m also reminded that one of my favorite things about the most recent volume of Caro’s LBJ bio is how it exposes the massive gap between the self-regard and actual accomplishments of JFK’s circle of cronies:
A few weeks into her freshman year, she was picked to help run a weekly study group for a seminar led by Ted Sorensen, the former Kennedy speechwriter and confidant. “After that, I was hooked,” she later told a Harvard newsletter. No other institution in the world, she exulted, could match the institute “in terms of exposure and having a seat at the table.”