Meghan McCain to Ana Navarro: I don't know why you still call yourself a Republican

I don’t know why either and I say that as a Trump skeptic. I’ll goof on POTUS when he says something weird or embarrassing, which is every six hours or so, but when he’s right, he’s right. And he’s right about who was to blame for the shutdown.

The fireworks come at the very end here but you might be lost if you skip ahead and miss the context. They’re arguing over the shutdown follies. McCain, quite properly, flags Chuck Schumer’s egregious hypocrisy in holding up government funding over an unrelated policy issue now after declaring it a disgrace when Republicans did it in 2013. But but but, says Joy Behar, why didn’t Mitch McConnell agree to a Democratic amendment that would have allowed American troops to be paid while the shutdown wore on? The obvious answer: Because McConnell wanted to end the shutdown as quickly as possible and knew that carving out exceptions to make it more politically comfortable for Democrats would only extend the ordeal. If Dems could shut down part of the government knowing that the troops would still get their checks, maybe this would drag on a week or more. If Democrats couldn’t do that, knowing that military families would suffer if this went on much longer, they’d be more likely to cave.

It was hardball in other words, designed to make Democrats live with the full political consequences of their tantrum. And it worked like a charm. Not only will military pay be restored imminently, so will funding for the rest of the government. Yet “Republican” Ana Navarro seems unable to understand why Trump and McConnell would countenance such a move, sniffing with rhetorical disdain at McCain one point: Would you have rejected the Democratic amendment to pay the troops? Remember now, this is John McCain’s daughter, granddaughter of an admiral, sister of a Navy officer, her father known far and wide as the most hawkish man in the Senate and one of the most pro-amnesty Republicans in America. To question the McCain family’s commitment to the military or to compassion for illegals is bananas, yet here’s Navarro looking down her nose at her. To which McCain, exasperated, finally asks, in what way are you still a Republican?

Which is a good question. Navarro pops up regularly on CNN panels but her niche seems to be as a sort of bizarro-world Jeffrey Lord, where she’s on only to give an entirely predictable reaction to whatever Trump said or did that day. With Lord, the expected reaction was to defend Trump; with Navarro it’s to attack him. To the extent that she’s still a Republican, it seems like the chief reason is because it lends her criticism of Trump an extra dimension that pleases CNN’s sensibility. Democrats or independents who do nothing but attack Trump are boring; *Republicans* who do it, ah, now that’s interesting and worth putting on the air. I should be the target audience for shtick like that since I’m a right-winger who dislikes Trump myself, but this goes back to my basic problem with CNN. Although it’s neither too cold (like MSNBC) nor too hot (like Fox News), it’s not “just right” either because the endless pearl-clutching by the hosts and truth-to-power self-congratulation by panelists like Navarro at whatever dopey thing Trump did that day is grating and tedious even when you’re predisposed to agree with it. Evidently McCain’s been watching CNN too because she’s had her fill of Navarro’s shtick too.

This actually connects to a broader disagreement within the anti-Trump right about just how objectionable POTUS is. There’s a contingent of hardcore anti-Trumpers like Navarro, David Frum, Jennifer Rubin, etc etc, for whom his (or the GOP’s) every action is fodder for criticism. There’s another contingent of more softcore anti-Trumpers like Rich Lowry, Ross Douthat, me, etc etc, for whom he’s frequently embarrassing and occasionally corrosive in the precedents he sets for presidential behavior but not nearly as much of a crisis figure as we feared he might be before he took office. Douthat wrote about that yesterday:

A vast gulf between the things Trump says he wants — which are, indeed, often authoritarian — and the things that actually happen is the essential characteristic of his presidency’s first year.

He promised to bring back waterboarding and worse; he was easily talked out of it. He promised a Muslim ban; a much more modest travel ban is now tied up in the courts. He launched a voter fraud commission, which his critics regarded as a step toward massive vote suppression; it was ineffective and broke up. He keeps threatening to change the libel laws; they aren’t changing, and the anti-Trump press is thriving. NATO and Nafta are both still there; the trade war with China has been postponed; we are not at war with Iran or (yes, I know, yet) with North Korea; the scope of the Russia investigation has only widened since Trump’s hamfisted intervention.

Before Trump took office, it was reasonable to worry that he would fill high offices with cronies, but the real cranks have rarely lasted and many appointments have been reasonable and conventional and even boring. The president is filling the courts with Federalist Society conservatives, not his sister or Ivanka or Newt Gingrich, and his cabinet looks a lot like a generic Republican administration, whose efforts liberals understandably oppose and sometimes deplore, but which are not remotely like the workings of a fascist cabal circa 1935.

It’s a farce, says Douthat, not a tragedy. I doubt Navarro would agree, though, in which case why would she want to remain a Republican? It’s noteworthy that when McCain puts that question directly to her, she responds, “Because I’m a Hispanic immigrant Latina. I came here through no decision of my own.” But … that’s not a reason to be a Republican (or a Democrat), it’s a reason to support DACA and DREAM. One easy answer would have been “I’m not a Republican anymore, now that Republicanism is defined as Trumpism.” But she doesn’t even offer that. When called on to explain the substance of her continuing identification with the party, she just ducks.

Kind of fun that Meghan McCain is on national television lecturing other people that they’re not good Republicans, though, huh? I remember back in the day when she was known as Queen RINO and I was a junior RINO for defending her sometimes. (Well, that, plus a hundred other reasons.) Now she’s The View’s right-wing enforcer. The Trump era is amazing.