For Feinstein, a Painful 'Groundhog Day' Over Age

Jane Mayer reports on concerns about cognitive decline of 87-year-old senator
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 10, 2020 8:07 AM CST
Updated Dec 13, 2020 1:56 PM CST
For Feinstein, a Painful 'Groundhog Day' Over Age
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., questions Mark Zuckerberg and Twiiter's Jack Dorsey during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in November.   (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Jane Mayer of the New Yorker is out with a new story that will make for uncomfortable reading for supporters of Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Citing anonymous sources familiar with the 87-year-old California senator, the story asserts that Feinstein's memory and overall cognitive ability have dropped sharply. The issue came to the forefront last month when Feinstein—as the ranking Democrat on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee—asked a sharp question of Twitter's Jack Dorsey in a hearing. The problem is that after he answered, she immediately asked the exact same question again, "seemingly registering no awareness that she was repeating herself verbatim." Mayer also writes that staffers have been struggling to brief Feinstein on various issues because she sometimes forgets she's been briefed.

In one of the more troubling anecdotes, Mayer writes that Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer had multiple "serious and painful talks" with Feinstein about relinquishing her leadership spot on the panel. But Feinstein kept forgetting they had the talks, and Schumer had to keep re-raising the issue, writes Mayer. “It was like Groundhog Day, but with the pain fresh each time," a source tells Mayer. The insider likens it to having a talk with an elderly relative about giving up the car keys, but this time, "it wasn’t just about a car, it was about the US Senate." Feinstein has since agreed to give up her leadership post in the committee. Read the full story, which includes the sentiment of some that Feinstein's problems are being exaggerated. It also explores how Congress' old-age problem applies to both parties. (More Dianne Feinstein stories.)

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