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AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

As if Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) doesn’t have enough issues, she’s facing a not-so-secret cabal of members from her own party who want her gone now. The aging Democrat, who is pushing 90, announced what many on the party's progressive wing wanted to hear: she won’t be running for re-election in 2024. Ms. Feinstein has been a fixture for Senate Democrats, having served since 1992, but her degrading mental capacity has been noted, with aides carefully guiding the senator through the day. Regarding this situation, backward reels the mind to when an anonymous staffer for a California Democrat said, “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.” 


Flashforward 2022-23, and we saw a glimpse of that, with Ms. Feinstein forgetting that she turned down the president pro tempore position last November. An aide had to remind her of the statement from her office. Many on her side have quietly trashed her, reaching a breaking point over the confirmation of Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett, a Trump appointee. Now, with over a dozen judicial nominees on the docket, many Democrats wonder if Feinstein resigning from her senate seat would accelerate the confirmation process (via NYT): 

Senator Dianne Feinstein on Wednesday pushed back on calls for her resignation but asked to step away from the Judiciary Committee indefinitely while recovering from shingles, responding to mounting pressure from Democrats who have publicly vented concerns that she is unable to perform her job. 

Ms. Feinstein, an 89-year-old California Democrat, has been away from the Senate since February, when she was diagnosed with the infection. Her absence has become a problem for Senate Democrats, limiting their ability to move forward with judicial nominations. In recent days, as it became clear she was not planning to return after a two-week recess, pressure began to increase for Ms. Feinstein to resign. 

On Wednesday night, she said she would not do so, but offered a stopgap solution, saying she would request a temporary replacement on the panel. 

“I understand that my absence could delay the important work of the Judiciary Committee,” Ms. Feinstein said in a statement on Wednesday night, after two House Democrats publicly called on her to leave the Senate. “So I’ve asked Leader Schumer to ask the Senate to allow another Democratic senator to temporarily serve until I’m able to resume my committee work.”  


Ms. Feinstein is a liberal Democrat with whom we don’t agree much on political issues, but she’s a sane member. In contrast, an increasing number of congressional Democrats are unspooled. On her personality, I’ve heard nothing but great things. This move to push her out before her term is due isn’t grounded in health concerns from her colleagues; they want power. They see her as an impediment in the quest, highlighting how quickly these parties toss legacy members to the curb once they’ve served their purpose. And the media is doing its part, with some major networks being mum on the intraparty drama (via Newsbusters):

…CBS Mornings and NBC’s Today show ran segments on Thursday regarding the calls for her to resign, ABC’s Good Morning America kept their viewers in the dark.

Instead of covering this sore spot for Democrats, ABC preferred to boast about two controversial Tennessee Democrats being reinstated to their seats in the state legislature. Good Morning America also hyped the latest drama from the British royal family. 


Meanwhile, on NBC, they tried to play nice while giving voice to the progressive wing trying to show Feinstein the door. “Meantime, calls are growing louder for longtime Senator Diane Feinstein to step down, some from members of her own party. The groundbreaking lawmaker absent from Washington for nearly two months due to illness,” announced co-anchor Hoda Kotb. 

Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles emphasized how Feinstein’s absence was holding up the Democratic Party’s agenda: 

Senator Diane Feinstein insists that she has no plans to step down, but overnight, she asked  to be temporarily replaced on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee. And some of her fellow Democrats are worried that her extended absence is standing in the way of important work that needs to be done here in Washington … Senator Diane Feinstein has not cast a vote in the U.S. Senate since early February. 

Nobles came close to revealing the Senator’s reported deteriorating mental condition when he noted that, “The 89-year-old Feinstein already facing questions about her health and mental stamina, announced last month she would not seek re-election in 2024 but promised to finish her term.” 


In an apparent attempt to help viewers swallow the possibility of Feinstein being forced out, Nobles concluded by saying that California Governor Gavin Newsom “has said he would appoint a black woman to the job.”


Look, it goes without saying that I would never vote for Feinstein for any elected office but let the woman serve out her term. It’s only a year—and Democrats have other concerns, like the looming debt ceiling fight, which could be a bruiser with congressional Republicans. Judicial nominees don’t matter much if we default on the debt so I would place the ‘boot Dianne’ talk on the back burner for now.


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