February 17, 2023

Dianne Feinstein

“Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein, whose groundbreaking political career shattered gender barriers from San Francisco’s City Hall to the corridors of Capitol Hill, said Tuesday she won’t seek reelection in 2024. The senator, who turns 90 in June, is the oldest member of Congress and has faced questions in recent years about her cognitive health and memory.” AP News

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From the Left

The left praises Feinstein’s accomplishments.

“Amid national outrage over Anita Hill’s treatment by the all-male Senate Judiciary Committee (then-chaired by Delaware’s Joe Biden) during the 1991 Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas, Feinstein was one of four women elected to the U.S. Senate in 1992. Their arrival tripled the number of women in a chamber that had never seen more than two… She would make her mark in Washington quickly, as a leader in the push for an assault weapons ban…

“In recent years, though, it was hard to miss the fact that the tough-minded senator seemed to be slipping… But as many times as she has been dismissed as a throwback to another era, I will always think of her as a bridge from a male-dominated Washington. Which is why I hope it will not be forgotten how much Dianne Feinstein has done to get us all to where we are now.”

Karen Tumulty, Washington Post

“Few elected leaders can match Feinstein’s record of achievement over the decades or her steadfast commitment to championing the causes most important to Californians: environmental protection, gun control and immigration reform, to name a few… Millions of acres of desert habitat, including the Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks, are protected today because Feinstein methodically pushed to ensure that California’s vast and underappreciated desert landscape is preserved for future generations…

“She has been dogged in the last few years by questions about her age, mental acuity and whether she’s still up for the job — but she has delivered for California, including securing billions of federal dollars for projects from subway construction to wildfire restoration. With Feinstein’s exit, California will lose the seniority and ranking her tenure carries; Sen. Alex Padilla was appointed in 2021 and won his first U.S. Senate election in November. The state is better for Feinstein’s service, but she is right to pass the torch.”

Editorial Board, Los Angeles Times

“She was consistently who she was — a throwback to an earlier, more genteel era, one where Democrats and Republicans could fight all day and have dinner together at night…

“I wasn’t at all surprised when she got in trouble with her fellow Democrats for hugging and congratulating Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-S.C.) after the confirmation hearings of Supreme Court nominee (and now justice) Amy Coney Barrett. She was accused in recent years of being insufficiently partisan and aggressive in fighting Republicans. That, as much as any sign of cognitive decline, was what made you feel she was a senator whose time had come and gone.”

Nicholas Goldberg, Los Angeles Times

From the Right

The right urges Feinstein to retire immediately if she is unable to perform her duties.

The right urges Feinstein to retire immediately if she is unable to perform her duties.

“For quite a while now, if you paid consistent attention to Feinstein, you would notice that she would make a statement, and then the next day insist she had never made that statement. It has been an open not-so-secret on Capitol Hill that Feinstein’s memory is ‘rapidly deteriorating.’… The New York Times wrote last year that Feinstein ‘sometimes struggles to recall the names of colleagues, frequently has little recollection of meetings or telephone conversations, and at times walks around in a state of befuddlement.’…

“It would be nice if we lived in a world where elected officials were responsible, mindful and recognized when age was taking its toll on their ability to do their jobs. It would be preferable if we could trust the judgment of elderly leaders, and their assurances that they haven’t gotten too old to handle their duties. Alas, we do not live in that world, and thus some of the figures at the highest level of our government are senile and stumbling around with only a partial or vague understanding of what they’re doing.”

Jim Geraghty, National Review

“At this point, she really should be retiring instead of resigning in two years. She’s not running her office at this point, her staff is and no one elected them to the job. There are some reports that even her announcement today showed her staff was in charge and she seemed unsure of what was happening…

“I don’t harbor any ill will toward Sen. Feinstein, but I do harbor some ill will toward the politicos around her who seem to prefer that she remain in office even though they know better than anyone that she is not fit to serve. Yes, I’m sure Feinstein herself, in her most lucid moments, wants to keep going but that’s just an excuse. She probably should have announced her resignation a year or two ago. Someone who cares about her should have pulled her aside and convinced her. At this point, pushing her to continue for another two years just seems cruel.”

John Sexton, Reason

Dated But Relevant: “Feinstein's situation highlights a major problem in politics. If workers cannot perform or choose not to perform their job, an employer will often fire them. However, when it's politicians in the government, they get to keep their positions…

Age is only one part of the broader problem. Some politicians frequently miss votes in Congress… A politician can refuse to show up to committee meetings for no reason at all. A 2014 Washington Examiner report found that many members of the House missed more than two-thirds of their committee meetings. Of course, if someone stops showing up to business meetings in the private sector, their employer would probably fire them!”
Tom Joyce, Washington Examiner

“Feinstein was a habitual enemy of the Second Amendment, a hysterical drug warrior, and an unfailing defender of government surveillance. Ever annoyed that you can't buy Sudafed over the counter? Blame Feinstein, who co-sponsored the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005… Ever wistful for the original Four Loko (you monster)? Blame Feinstein, who was one of the senators calling for the FDA to investigate the drink for simply being too awesome for college kids to handle…

“In fairness to the senator, one of the bright spots of her career must also be noted: her dogged work exposing the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) illegal torture program. However, on the national security front, she was frequently hostile to individual liberty and privacy rights. She sponsored the FISA Amendments Act Reauthorization Act of 2012, which ‘[gave] government agents almost carte blanche to eavesdrop on the domestic communications of American citizens.’ She introduced legislation that would force tech companies to create backdoors around encrypted devices. She was a defender of the Obama administration's bloody drone program.”

C.J. Ciamarella, Reason

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