Some of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's colleagues question her mental fitness
The San Francisco Chronicle released a story on Thursday alleging that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 88 and celebrating her 30th anniversary in the Senate, is no longer mentally competent. Rumors about her mental decline have been circulating for years. However, while the sources cited in the Chronicle report hide behind anonymity, this report is still the most open statement regarding Feinstein's competency.
The article opens with a telling anecdote. The only change I've made to it is to replace the confusing and grammatically incorrect "they" pronoun used to describe the unnamed lawmaker with the less confusing and grammatically correct "he." (Yes, the lawmaker could be a "she," but the default is "he," and that's good enough for me.)
When a California Democrat in Congress recently engaged in an extended conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, [he] prepared for a rigorous policy discussion like those [he'd] had with her many times over the last 15 years.
Instead, the lawmaker said, [he] had to reintroduce [himself] to Feinstein multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours.
Rather than delve into policy, Feinstein, 88, repeated the same small-talk questions, like asking the lawmaker what mattered to voters in their district, the member of Congress said, with no apparent recognition the two had already had a similar conversation.
The episode was so unnerving that the lawmaker — who spoke to The Chronicle on condition [he] not be identified because of the sensitivity of the topic — began raising concerns with colleagues to see if some kind of intervention to persuade Feinstein to retire was possible.
Image: Dianne Feinstein (edited). YouTube screen grab.
The anonymous lawmaker quoted above is not the only person who finds Feinstein's mental decay unnerving.
Four U.S. senators, including three Democrats, as well as three former Feinstein staffers and the California Democratic member of Congress told The Chronicle in recent interviews that her memory is rapidly deteriorating. They said it appears she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work required to represent the nearly 40 million people of California.
When the Chron, on March 28, approached Feinstein to ask about the rumors, Feinstein brushed them off. In a statement — she refused to be interviewed — Feinstein alluded to and explained away her apparent lapses by referring to her husband's lingering death from cancer:
"The last year has been extremely painful and distracting for me, flying back and forth to visit my dying husband who passed just a few weeks ago," she said. "But there's no question I'm still serving and delivering for the people of California, and I'll put my record up against anyone's."
Naturally, sexism reared its head:
Some of these people bristle at singling out Feinstein, when congressional history is filled with aging male politicians who remained in office despite their declining state.
Somewhat ironically, one of Feinstein's staunchest defenders was Nancy Pelosi, 82, who often appears to be somewhat confused herself.
Ultimately, the Democrats will do what they need to do to protect the brand. Their problem is that Feinstein has now joined Joe Biden and Nancy Pelosi as the face of the Democrat party: old and senile, and that's true whether Feinstein and Pelosi are, in fact, suffering from senile dementia.
For a party that's presided over the worst inflation in 40 years, the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, a completely open southern border, and rising crime, it's a P.R. disaster to have your most visible people look as if they're lost in elder space. And that disastrous look isn't helped at all by the fact that the woman waiting in the wings, while substantially younger than these political fossils, seems to have the I.Q. of a mugwort plant. No matter how you slice it, with a potential red wave election facing Democrats in the upcoming midterms, Feinstein is a liability.