Feinstein Reports Showcase the System's Lack of Options

Ruth Marcus writes that the senator's staff may not be doing the nation a service
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2022 2:35 PM CDT
Feinstein's Aides May Not Be Doing the Nation a Service
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., questions Supreme Court nominee?Ketanji Brown Jackson during a Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, March 22, 2022.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Anecdotes about Sen. Dianne Feinstein's memory issues ring true to Ruth Marcus, based on her own reporting. An article in the San Francisco Chronicle detailed the experiences of colleagues and aides with what they said seem to be the 88-year-old senator's fading mental acuity. Writing in the Washington Post, Marcus looks at the factors involved. The Democrat's colleagues of both parties have been critical before, she says, noting their reaction during Brett Kavanaugh's confirmation hearings when the senator didn't tell anyone about Christine Blasey Ford's allegations.

"The Feinstein story evokes broader issues," Marcus writes, "the unwillingness of so many who hold power to cede it voluntarily, with their identities and support systems so bound up in their jobs; and the inability of our political system, in the absence of term limits (which I oppose for other reasons), to deal with those unwilling to recognize when it is time to step down." A board of directors in the private sector might well push a deteriorating executive aside, while the only real remedy in government is action by voters.

Marcus doesn't see evidence of sexism behind the whispers about Feinstein, but she acknowledges there are reasons the whisperers might want her to step down. Progressives want someone more liberal in her seat, for starters. And there are reasons others might want her to stay, Marcus notes. The aides enabling her to stay in office by doing her work could be acting out of loyalty. But then, in a situation like this, aides filling the gap become all the more powerful. Feinstein maintains that she's fine, and her staff hasn't said otherwise. "Covering up is not public service," Marcus writes. You can read the full piece here. (More Dianne Feinstein stories.)

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