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Dianne Feinstein's Staffers Weren't Elected To Anything-- But They're Holding The Country Hostage



The Senate is such a dysfunctional pile of junk that just about the only thing it can do now is confirm nominees. But with Dianne Feinstein incapacitated— possibly dying— the Democrats can’t even do that. She’ll be 90 in June… and not a strong vibrant 90. A barely-clinging-to-life 90 with very little cognitive ability left. She doesn’t recognize her colleagues and doesn’t remember how to get from her office to the Senate floor.

When you read that “she” wants this or “she” wants that, it’s her staff calling the shots. Feinstein staffers are holding up the U.S. Senate. Even “her” request to be “temporarily” replaced on the Judiciary Committee was a pathetic joke that could only happen in the U.S. Senate. The media plays along by publishing nonsense like “Sen. Chuck Schumer, per Feinstein’s request, is asking that Feinstein be allowed to be temporarily removed, and replaced, on the all-important Senate Judiciary Committee, which has been gummed up for months due to her absence.” She has no role in the Senate and no roll on the committee— except to keep her staffers on the payroll. That’s what it’s come down to. She’s de facto retired and is unlikely to ever return to the Senate but her staffers are unlikely to ever want to give up their jobs by letting her officially retire. They claim she’s working from home. They could well claim that for months after she’s brain dead if not actually dead.


The Republicans are taking advantage of this of course, playing the elder-abuse card. Iowa reactionary Chuck Grassley, who’s a slightly younger 89, whined this week that “I think it’s a shame that the Democratic Party is supposed to be for the little person and the women and all that, but they denied her being chairman of the committee and [are] trying to force her out of office because she’s old. And I don’t intend to give credence to that sort of anti-human treatment.” The Republicans are ready to make a deal— they’ll allow her to be replaced… but only be de facto Republican Kyrsten Sinema.


Alexander Sammon: “Her absence is blocking the effectiveness of the Senate Judiciary Committee at a moment when the impact of judicial appointments and the work of the Democratic senate has never been clearer. Both the rulings of Fifth Circuit Trump appointee Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk effectively outlawing the abortion drug mifepristone, and the Clarence Thomas scandal, add even more urgency to an already urgent situation. So far, she has missed three-quarters of all votes in the 118th congress: Some 40 million Americans in the country’s biggest and most important state currently enjoy half the representation of the 500,000 residents of Wyoming. Politico has reported that she may not make it back to the Capitol for two years. This is the way it ends then, not with a bang, but with a parade of eyerolls and punchlines about the obvious discrepancies between what Feinstein’s staff says and her own rare public utterances; questions about her physical and mental inability to do the job; and a constant resurfacing of her very worst political moments, including her decision to fly the Confederate flag over San Francisco as mayor. There is, to boot, a borderline insulting charm offensive being waged by some California House Democrats and Senate sympathizers who claim that pushing for Feinstein to step aside is all sexism.”



Jonathan Chait has no patience for that bullshit and asked this week What Is Dianne Feinstein Still Doing Here? He still isn’t making the case that there is no Feinstein and that all there is is her staff pretending to be Feinstein. “If Feinstein were to resign now,” he wrote, “she could immediately be replaced by a senator able to perform his or her duties. Feinstein, however, has refused.” She doesn’t have the cognitive ability to resign our notbresign anymore than a rotten potato does. Chair is still playing along with the farce: “She recently offered to let another Senate Democrat fill her Judiciary Committee seat until such time as she can resume her duties.” Give us a fucking break already— ROTTEN POTATO; that what we have as a Senator from Califonria— a rotten potato with a self-serving staff.


When Chair wants to be realistic, he can and does: “Understood by nearly any moral calculus, the choice is obvious. Feinstein is 89 years old, well past both the age and the condition at which most people retire. Her personal wealth is in the high eight figures [and she should have been in prison for the way she used her office to enrich herself]. She would be fine. On the flip side, her retaining control of a job she cannot perform is already eating up unrecoverable time, which will have effects on the composition of the judiciary that are impossible to calculate but likely to be very large, with an impact on laws affecting millions of people. But the calculus employed by public officials, senators in particular, tends to discard standard moral calculations. It instead places all its weight on the prerogative of the famous and powerful to hold their titles as long as they wish. The office is a kind of private-property entitlement that no larger social good can override.”


Finding analogous cases of male Supreme Court justices pushed to the side isn’t hard. After a private lobbying campaign, Anthony Kennedy strategically retired in 2018, at the age of 81, enabling a Republican president to name his successor. In general, men and women in many fields of American life are routinely pushed out of their jobs when they reach an advanced age (often much younger than Feinstein). And nearly all those are cases in which the social value of the job is infinitesimal compared with that of a senator holding a decisive vote.
Pelosi isn’t arguing that it’s better for women on net to allow Feinstein to stay in office. That argument would be nearly impossible given the stakes of the judiciary on abortion rights, let alone on all the other issues handled by the courts. Her case rests on elevating the individual prerogative of a senator above the millions of people she serves. It is to forget that senators are public servants at all to conceive of the role as a place of honor in American life and believe that stripping it away constitutes some form of punishment.
The Senate imagines— and to an extent conducts— itself as an exclusive club. Its splendor and majesty are a favorite subject of senatorial speeches, especially in those rare moments when the body is functioning. The effect of this belief system on the egos of the 100 members is difficult to overstate. It provides the context in which Feinstein’s overly long good-bye seems rational and not an act of almost sociopathic indifference to the people she’s supposed to be serving.

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3 Comments


Mary Anne Cummings
Mary Anne Cummings
Apr 26, 2023

We have a POTUS whose frontal lobes are melting in public. Whoever is making decisions on war with Russia and China, drilling in the Arctic wilderness, allowing 15M booted off Medicaid, declaring COVID over, it sure ain't Biden.

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Jesse Salisbury
Jesse Salisbury
Apr 20, 2023

called a couple of her numbers and got the recorded message. left a message, feeling that my right to redress my government is as big a farce as Diane(weekend at Bernies) Feinstein actually representing me here in California. Im supporting Katie Porter to replace her . she is the young (49)progressive that we need in California and for the country. The party was quick to condemn her for throwing her hat into the ring first , they were quick to try and take her down, but right behind her was ole shifty schiff (62) and barbara lee (77). i can appreciate Porters NO BULLSHIT - FACT BASED approach. I / WE are sick and tired of all the BULLSHIT…

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Guest
Apr 20, 2023

Well, bitch all you want, but CA elected her at age OLD; the party allowed it and even wanted it; and the party gave her a spot on an important committee even though she didn't, even then, know she was alive (and the party knew it).


bitching about the headache or swollen ankles does nothing to cure cancer. neither does giving the cancer a swell's position in the $enate.


maybe the cancer should be excised. And, by that I mean the entire democrap party.

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