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Dianne Feinstein Is 88 And In Severe Cognitive Decline-- Way Past Time To Retire



Feinstein shouldn't have run last time but she's one of those political freaks-- like Pelosi and most of the careerists in Congress who believe in the critical man theory, which makes them conveniently believe their role in the world/the team/the whatever is essential. Strom Thurmond was, born in 1902 when William McKinley was in his first term as president. Had he been bar mitzva-ed, it would have been during Woodrow Wilson's first term. When his diapers were stinking up the Senate chambers, enough gentle pressure was finally brought to bear to persuade him not to run for a 9th term and his retirement and 100 birthday were celebrated on the same day.


This morning, Feinstein's hometown paper ran an exhaustive piece by Tal Kopan and Joe Garofoli with an ominous headline: Colleagues Worry Dianne Feinstein Is Now Mentally Unfit To Serve, Citing Recent Interactions. People in San Francisco know who Dianne Feinstein is-- and they already have their minds made up about her. She was head of the Board of Supervisors when Harvey Milk and George Moscone were assassinated by Dan White, the only Supervisor to her right. She became mayor and eventually governor. Kevin de Leon nearly beat her-- and did beat her in much of the state-- but it was in places like San Francisco where people didn't bother to find out what a slug she had become, that gave her a margin of victory.


Today Kopan and Garofoli recounted a number of incidents that clearly point to advanced senility-- very advanced, like colleagues saying she doesn't remember who they are, sometimes multiple times over the course of one conversation and repeating rote aphorisms over and over. One member told the writers that some lawmakers are suggesting "some kind of intervention to persuade Feinstein to retire. One lawmaker told them "I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone. She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that."


Fellow senators, former Feinstein staffers and a congress member who knows her told the writers 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." But if you read DWT even sporadically you have known that for at least half a dozen years. "[S]ome close to her said that on her most difficult days, she does not seem to fully recognize even longtime colleagues. 'It’s bad, and it’s getting worse,' said one Democratic senator. This person said that within the Senate, Feinstein has difficulty keeping up with conversations and discussions. 'There’s a joke on the Hill, we’ve got a great junior senator in Alex Padilla and an experienced staff in Feinstein’s office,' said a staffer for a California Democrat."


Feinstein's staff claims she isn't too senile to function but they wouldn't let her get anywhere near the two writers. Establishment institutionalists, they used Tim Kaine (D-VA), Alex Padilla (D-CA) and Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) as examples, defended her because... that's what they do. Others were offended because Feinstein is a woman and senile male senators are always getting away with the same stuff people are bringing up about her, even if it is true, which it is, painfully so.


Pelosi flat out lied about Feinstein's mental capacity, claiming she had not noticed a decline in Feinstein’s memory and noted her work on the recent reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act and the Supreme Court confirmation. "Senator Feinstein is a workhorse for the people of California and a respected leader among her colleagues in the Senate," Pelosi babbled nonsensically and dishonestly, further damaging her own precariously frayed credibility. "She is constantly traveling between California and the Capitol, working relentlessly to ensure Californians’ needs are met and voices are heard."


Pelosi said it was “unconscionable that, just weeks after losing her beloved husband of more than four decades and after decades of outstanding leadership to our City and State, she is being subjected to these ridiculous attacks that are beneath the dignity in which she has led and the esteem in which she is held.”
But the new details about Feinstein’s condition raise questions about where a line should be drawn in a legislative body with no age or term limits.
Other than resignation, death or the end of a term, there is only one way to remove senators from office: a two-thirds vote of their peers. The Senate has expelled 15 members since 1789-- one for treason and 14 for supporting the Confederacy during the Civil War. A handful of other expulsions have been explored, usually for corruption, but in each case the lawmaker left office before a vote.
Adding urgency to the recent concerns: If Democrats retain control of the Senate next year, Feinstein will succeed retiring Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy as the Senate’s president pro tem-- putting her third in line for the presidency. Feinstein has filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission that would allow her to run in 2024, a formality that lets her keep her fundraising accounts active, though she has not yet declared whether she intends to run.
Still, there’s a sense of resignation about the situation amid the sadness and frustration, The Chronicle found, as discussions about how to persuade Feinstein to step aside have yet to produce any results.
“It shouldn’t end this way for her. She deserves better,” said the California Democratic member of Congress. “Those who think that they are serving her or honoring her by sweeping all of this under the rug are doing her an enormous disservice.”
Concerns about Feinstein’s ability to hold her job have followed her for years and intensified in 2020 when a series of accounts circulated about her performance. The attention two years ago was focused around the possibility that she would become chair of the Judiciary Committee under President Biden.
She defended her abilities at the time. “I don’t feel my cognitive abilities have diminished,” she told the Los Angeles Times in December 2020. “Do I forget something sometimes? Quite possibly.”
She had been responding to a December 2020 New Yorker story that reported Feinstein was “seriously struggling” with memory loss. The article said Senate Democratic Majority Leader Chuck Schumer had to tell Feinstein more than once that she needed to give up the Judiciary Committee leadership post because she didn’t remember he had already told her.
A month prior, she repeated a question to a witness, word for word, in a hearing with seemingly no awareness of having done so, and she shocked colleagues at the end of the contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearing for Amy Coney Barrett by unexpectedly praising Republicans for having conducted a great process.
“This has been one of the best set of hearings that I’ve participated in,” Feinstein told the Republican chair of the committee. “I want to thank you for your fairness.”
Since then, the situation has seemingly worsened, the lawmakers and former aides who spoke to The Chronicle said. Even those who consider themselves among Feinstein’s closest allies worry her health and memory struggles will rapidly deteriorate or cause public embarrassment.
She rarely engages with the public outside her official duties as a member of Senate committees, including the Senate Intelligence Committee, which handles sensitive national intelligence, nor does she do extended sit-down interviews with the media. She does field questions from the press in the Senate hallways, but often responds by saying she doesn’t know enough to comment or gives nonspecific responses.
Feinstein has not had a town hall since 2017, according to the congressional tracker LegiStorm, and has not held any local events this year. Her office said she has attended numerous public events since that town hall, however, and attributed her lack of events in 2022 to her husband’s passing and the pandemic. Every other member of the Bay Area congressional delegation has held at least two town halls and/or local events this year, and several have done far more.
By contrast, Padilla, who is up for re-election this year, participated in 18 public town halls in 2021, according to his staff. He did 250 media interviews. In the past two months, he has held two town halls in February, two events in Sacramento and two in San Francisco.
Feinstein’s reduced public profile and recent scrutiny may be hurting her popularity. A March survey from the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California found that 36% of likely voters approved of the way she was doing her job, down from 44% a year ago-- and lower than Padilla’s 39% approval mark.
A Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies and Los Angeles Times poll released Feb. 16 found that 9% of California voters strongly approved of her job performance, and an additional 21% somewhat approved. The surveys represented a steep decline from 2005, when a Field Poll found that 54% of voters approved of her job performance, and 26% disapproved.
Though Feinstein’s actions in public have been closely watched since 2020, the scripted nature of the Senate-- as well as pandemic restrictions and her limited public schedule-- have provided fewer instances in which she is subject to scrutiny.
But there are signs of her struggles. Feinstein has at least one staff member with her at essentially all times in the Capitol. And staff members guide the senator to an extent far beyond her colleagues.
On Jan. 20, the Judiciary Committee voted on an antitrust bill that would bar giant tech platforms like Google and Amazon from favoring their own products over third parties on their sites. Feinstein delivered a statement critical of the bill and expressed concerns about its targeting of California-based companies like Google, putting her at odds with most Democrats on the committee. The discussion of the bill and debate over its amendments lasted 2½ hours.
Feinstein struggled when pressed by Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, the bill’s author. Klobuchar asked Feinstein about a line in her remarks asserting that government agencies opposed the bill.
“Are you implying, Sen. Feinstein, that the U.S. government, that the administration is against this bill?” Klobuchar interjected.
“I do not know. What I said is, ‘I am told that federal agencies have concerns about this bill,’” Feinstein said.
Twelve days later, on Feb. 1, The Chronicle asked Feinstein as she walked through the Capitol to explain her views on the bill.
“I just don’t know what it does, candidly,” Feinstein said. “I have to look at it. What antitrust legislation are you talking about, what bill?”
When The Chronicle specified it was the bill the committee had marked up two weeks prior, Feinstein gestured toward her staff member and indicated he would follow up on it: “Let me look at it, and then we’ll talk.”
During that Jan. 20 hearing, and during a Feb. 3 hearing for a similar bill to loosen phone makers’ control over app purchases, a staff member hovered at Feinstein’s right hand during every roll call, sitting down once she had cast her vote. Several times, the staff member engaged in lengthy conversation with Feinstein.
It’s not uncommon for senators to confer with staff during hearings or to read prepared statements and questions. But few if any senators appear as reliant on staff input as they move around the Capitol.
...Though the Senate runs on a lot of staff work, the former staffers for Feinstein described an environment in which it was challenging to get things done due to her frequent inability to recall previous conversations or follow complicated discussions.
One former staffer said they would have conversations about sending a letter out, and the next day Feinstein would not remember the conversation.
In one instance, the former staffer recalled, they wanted Feinstein to sign off on something that would have advanced an important investigation. But Feinstein repeatedly said she could not understand why the investigative step was necessary, an explanation the staffer said they felt was a result of Feinstein not being able to follow the thread of the investigation.
“It’s really hard to have a micromanager who is not fully remembering everything that we’ve talked about,” the staffer said. “My biggest concern is that it’s a real disservice to the people of California.”
The lawmaker who had the hours-long interaction with Feinstein referenced a classic fable in which people are afraid to speak the truth to a powerful leader: “We’ve got an Emperor’s New Clothes problem here,” he admonished.

Feinstein is one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate with a ProgressivePunch score of "F," something that would probably shock California voters. Padilla has an "A." I never voted for Feinstein for anything and helped in Jello Biafra of the Dead Kennedy's when he ran against her for mayor of San Francisco. Unfortunately, she beat him. It was Harvey Milk, when he was a member of the Board of Supervisors, who first told me she was the worst person he knew in city government.


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