CNN’s Ana Navarro has been one of the most outspoken of the anti-Trump Republicans, those party members who prefer to stick to principles rather than board the runaway train of political opportunism that is the Trump administration.
Being an outlier in your own party has its disadvantages of course, including being attacked on air by fellow Republicans.
That’s exactly what happened to Navarro yesterday when former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli went off on the GOP political strategist during a CNN panel discussion on immigration policy.
It started when Cuccinelli defended White House Chief of Staff John Kelly’s controversial comments on the “Dreamers” who have not registered for the DACA program.
“We’ve defamed General Kelly here in this segment. He started off by saying ‘Maybe some people might have been afraid to sign up for [the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program]. Other people might have been lazy.’ And both of those are true,” Cuccinelli said.
“Since the last shutdown, only one side has given any ground on this. And that is President Trump has gone from the 690,000 actual number [of DACA recipients] to a hypothetical number of 1.8 [million],” Cuccinelli continued.
CNN’s Van Jones, a former Obama advisor, interjected: “People were afraid to sign up, and for good reason.” To which Cuccinelli replied “Who cares? I care that people are breaking the law.”
At this point, Ana Navarro jumped in and joined the discussion.
“Let me explain to you who cares. Can I answer your damn question about who cares? The people who care are the immigrants who are sick and tired of having this White House attack us and bash us on a daily basis,” Navarro responded.
Cuccinelli may have been having a bad day or maybe just forgot to take his meds, because he ripped back at Navarro with an uncalled-for personal attack that left some viewers shocked by its inappropriateness.
“I’m sick of hearing your shrill voice in my ears,” said Cuccinelli while gesturing with his hands to indicate that he thought Navarro was rambling on.
At this point, the panel dissolved into a shouting match before CNN host Don Lemon tried to restore order while defending Navarro.
“OK, Ken. Words matter. You just sat here and called a woman ‘shrill’ and then you did a little puppet thing,” said Lemon.
“Oh my gosh, you’re hearing it. Look, Ana yells us all down, and you tell the rest of us to be quiet,” Cuccinelli replied.
The former Virginia Attorney General then declared that he was being ganged up on by the panel.
It’s three-on-one here. I go last,” claimed Cuccinelli.
“I’m not against you,” Lemon replied. “I’m asking questions. Don’t say it’s three-on-one.”
“Oh come on, Don. You have a strong perspective here and you’re welcome to it,” Cuccinelli responded.
Host Lemon finally shut Cuccinelli down by giving him the ground rules for a panel discussion.
“I have a strong perspective here to keep you in order and to keep you to tell the truth. To hold your feet to the fire,” Lemon said.
With fireworks like this happening between registered Republican party members, the question inevitably raised is whether the party itself can survive the rise of Trumpism, with its rejection of democratic ideals and responsible government, in favor of authoritarian chauvinism and corporate cronyism.