The vultures seem to be circulating around Senator Dianne Feinstein this week. A story in the New York Post (as well as a flurry of dispatches) from other publications have all focused on the same core theme- Senator Feinstein‘s cognitive decline.
If you are one to believe what is written about Senator Feinstein- then you are likely to be of the conviction that this story has been many years in the making. One finds themselves impressed with how well the onset of the Senator’s decline has been kept under wraps. Sources I have spoken to on the hill were caught off guard by the veracity and uniformity of this story. This leads one to believe that (perhaps) only the Senate Minority Leader and Senator Feinstein’s staff were aware of her alleged condition.
Admittedly, many were shocked when Feinstein sought a sixth term as senator in 2018. The consensus among speculators was that she would be the next among the ‘old guard’ to retire. After a bruising and contentious primary battle that soured Feinstein’s relations with the progressive wing of her party, Feinstein delivered her 11th electoral victory in California at age 87 years old.
A series of odd moments in recent months have led some to murmur in hushed tones about Senator Feinstein’s mental health. A flurry of photos purportedly showing the Senior Senator from California ‘twisting off’ at her colleagues had many tongues wagging. An oddly timed hug with Senator Lindsey Graham put jaws to work. A series of rambling questions during Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing had many cocking their heads.
None of this caught much attention- until sources close to the Senator started talking. Off the record, the sources alleged that Senator Feinstein has been confronted several times by Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer about resigning. Each time- they allege- Senator Feinstein promptly forgets the conversation and Leader Schumer has to re-initiate the conflict again at a later time.
When Senator Schumer’s office failed to deny the story from the New York Post when it first circulated late this week, one thing was clear: Feinstein is about to be Cohcraned.
During the fight to repeal and replace Obamacare in 2017, President Trump tweeted:
“With one Yes vote in hospital & very positive signs from Alaska and two others (McCain is out), we have the HCare Vote, but not for Friday!”
This led many to wonder, ‘who the h*ll is in the hospital!?’. No one outside out the Republican leadership knew that Senator Thad Cochran, the 6 term senator from Mississippi, was hospitalized with renal failure.
Speculation had mounted that ‘something was wrong with him’ when Senator Cochran repeatedly voted ‘yes’ on a bill he opposed, until his aides reminded him that he was in opposition to the bill and needed to vote ‘no’. Similar to Senator Feinstein however, this story blew over and did not gin up much national media attention.
Schumer’s complete abstention from dispelling stories about Senator Feinstein has had the same effect as Trump’s tweet about Senator Cochran. The action (or inaction) has led to a drum beat of headlines calling for the Senator to either explain or resign.
This turn of events could not come at a worst time for Senator Feinstein. In September 2018, it became known that one of the Senator’s staffers was a Chinese Spy. The spy had served on Senator Feinstein’s staff for 20 years. Now, the Senator’s House colleague, Democrat Representative Eric Swall has been caught in an alleged romantic affair with another Chinese agent. Stories of Swalwell’s current Chinese troubles have led to a recirculation of Feinstein’s.
Ted Kennedy, Robert Byrd, Strom Thurmond, Barry Goldwater, Bob Dole, and Lloyd Bentson are often remembered as “lions of the senate”. Pundits remark how they shaped politics for generations of Americans. Certainly, the same can be said for Senator Feinstein. Feinstein was the person who found Harvey Milk, seconds after his assassination. Feinstein’s polemics on the 1995 Assault rifle bill have become folklore among liberals. Feinstein has served as a female senator since the days when that was remarkable.
But will that be enough for her to weather this? Cochran only lasted 7 months after his party’s leadership gave away the story about his health- and he didn’t have an espionage scandal swirling around him.