It’s not clear exactly when Ana Navarro finally extinguished any remaining hope of Jeb Bush ever winning the White House. Perhaps it happened earlier this year, when it became apparent that Trump would win the nomination, but that seems too early. Especially so since the Trump anomaly could even now be written off to the vagaries of a fickle electorate, and the perfectly reasonable idea that the political pendulum could swing back in Jeb’s favor in four more years.
Perhaps Navarro collectively gave up on her old boss more recently, after the respected former governor landed a visiting fellow gig at Harvard, and soon after, a short academic gig slated for early next year at Texas A&M.
But it doesn’t really matter when she finally gave up on Jeb. All that really matters is the fact that she threw in the towel by voting for Hillary Clinton and saying so publicly. By helping to elect Clinton, she not only cemented her already dubious reputation in the eyes of Republicans, but will have made the 2020 Case for Jeb Bush all the more far fetched than it already is.
Navarro is currently wallowing in more attention than she’s ever gotten before, and she’s getting it mostly from liberal bloggers, and ditzy magazine outlets that have gushed about Hillary Clinton since 1992. Progressive media types love her because she dutifully plays the role of a “Republican” on cable TV who is “disgusted” by Donald Trump. It’s low-hanging fruit, to be sure, a space similarly occupied by former Democrat pollster Pat Caddell, who frequently basks in the media attention so easily granted to those willing to abandon party principles in exchange for publicity. In Caddell’s defense, at least he proved his value as a successful political adviser to Jimmy Carter in 1976, which is far more than Navarro can claim. Why does CNN take her seriously? When has she ever successfully advised a major political campaign? Certainly not Jeb in 2016. Or John Huntsman in 2012. Or John McCain in 2008. And yet, national news outlets trot her out on TV any time they need an alleged Republican to bash Republicans.
Contrast Navarro’s vote for Hillary Clinton with the actions of Jeb, who has made it clear he will vote for neither Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump. That distinction suggests that Jeb is leaving the door cracked open ever so slightly for a possible return to politics. It may never happen, but smart people never say “never.” Jeb Bush is nothing if not smart. And being smart, he will eventually come to grips with the fact that his road to Republican redemption will require him to kick Navarro off the bus (or at least hide her in the baggage compartment).
That’s because, in the eyes of millions of conservative voters, Hillary Clinton is their arch enemy. Casting a ballot for her, even if you can’t stand Trump, is the ultimate stab in the back. Navarro could have cast a ballot for Gary Johnson, or just voted for Hillary and kept quiet about it. But instead, she chose to thumb her nose at millions of Trump supporters and anti-Clinton Republicans. Perhaps realizing that her usefulness as a Republican stooge is finally drawing to a close, she chose to make one last, desperate grab for headlines.
That’s the kind of thing conservatives won’t easily forget, but with the election cycle almost over, many will try their best.