Fun news out of Washington: the senior senator from the most populous state in America is…how do we say this delicately….a little gaga.
When a California Democrat in Congress recently engaged in an extended conversation with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, they prepared for a rigorous policy discussion like those they’d had with her many times over the last 15 years.
Instead, the lawmaker said, they had to reintroduce themselves to Feinstein multiple times during an interaction that lasted several hours.
[…] 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.
The Chronicle piece is respectful but its conclusion—that Feinstein’s mental deterioration has rendered her unfit for office—is clear, and its very existence is a sign of how bad Feinstein’s cognitive issues have gotten. Feinstein—a former San Francisco mayor who has always thrown her weight around in local politics—is revered by the city’s establishment, of which the Chronicle is a pillar, and the paper will have thought long and hard before it decided to proceed with such an unsparing piece. It will also have only moved if it felt it had incontrovertible evidence, and unfortunately for Feinstein, it has plenty.
[T]wo senators who have served with Feinstein for years said they believe she does not always fully recognize them. They said they get the sense that Feinstein realizes she knows them but isn’t able to quickly recall their name or home state. One Senate staffer said they’ve seen their boss on a few occasions greet Feinstein in hallways with a preemptive self-introduction.
Yikes yikes yikes.
The thing is, we have known this about Feinstein for years. Back in 2020, there were multiple stories about her fading faculties, and her disastrous handling of the Amy Coney Barrett hearings forced Chuck Schumer to remove her as the ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee—something he reportedly had to tell her twice because she forgot the first time. And yet, she is still in the Senate, insulated by one of its most enduring traditions—that you get to stay as long as you want even if you’ve lost your marbles.