If you want judges (which is supposedly what this was all about) then the best option of the bad options we have is her staying and voting. Simple as that.
— Centrism Fan Acct ?? (@Wilson__Valdez) May 19, 2023
From what ‘we’ can tell, the people who know Senator Feinstein best think she wants to die in office — and there really isn’t a good mechanism to make her give up, right now. This is suboptimal in many ways, but I can’t see an argument for breaking a loyal old fighter’s heart just to give the Republicans what they want.
Dianne Feinstein has taken on a noticeably lighter schedule since she came back from California. She appears in the Senate only at committee hearings or on the floor when her vote is essential.
Her party is holding its collective breath as the 89-year-old returns.
As relieved as Democrats are to have her back to break the logjam on party-line judicial nominees that her absence created, they’re loath to openly discuss her condition beyond generic well wishes. Fellow senators say they aren’t hearing much from her at all.
“We need her in committee and on the floor,” Judiciary Committee Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said, alluding to the need for Feinstein to vote on judicial nominees who lack any GOP support. “We’re doing our best to be sensitive to her medical condition.”
Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) spoke for many of his colleagues when he said: “She’s been ill and she’s elderly. And I really shouldn’t be talking, actually, because it’s just a difficult situation.”…
Breaking News: Dianne Feinstein suffered previously undisclosed medical complications during her Senate absence, people close to her said. Many described it as “frightening” to see her operating in the Senate in her current state. https://t.co/OqerfkZPeM
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 18, 2023
I’ll admit it’s something of a reassurance to me that Feinstein’s close friend, Nancy Pelosi, has not called for her resignation:
When she arrived at the Capitol last week after a more than two-month absence recovering from shingles, Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, 89, appeared shockingly diminished…
Ms. Feinstein’s frail appearance was a result of several complications after she was hospitalized for shingles in February, some of which she has not publicly disclosed. The shingles spread to her face and neck, causing vision and balance impairments and facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome. The virus also brought on a previously unreported case of encephalitis, a rare but potentially debilitating complication of shingles that a spokesman confirmed on Thursday after The New York Times first revealed it, saying that the condition had “resolved itself” in March.
Characterized by swelling of the brain, post-shingles encephalitis can leave patients with lasting memory or language problems, sleep disorders, bouts of confusion, mood disorders, headaches and difficulties walking. Older patients tend to have the most trouble recovering. And even before this latest illness, Ms. Feinstein had already suffered substantial memory issues that had raised questions about her mental capacity…
Ms. Feinstein, a pioneering woman in Democratic politics who was once a major party power broker and a legislative force in the Senate, has stubbornly refused to consider leaving. The same force of will that led her nearly a decade ago to resist pressure from the Obama administration to keep secret a damning torture report still rears its head when she is confronted with calls to step down. The senator still sees the job as her calling and is no more receptive to a conversation about stepping aside than she was in 2018, when she decided to seek another term despite questions about her mental acuity.
People close to her joke privately that perhaps when Ms. Feinstein is dead, she will start to consider resigning. Over the years, she and many Democrats have bristled at the calls for her to relinquish her post, noting that such questions were rarely raised about aging male senators who remained in office through physical and cognitive struggles, even after they were plainly unable to function on their own…
Predictably, here comes the double-reverse backflip: Blame Nancy Pelosi!
Ms. Feinstein flew on a chartered private plane last week to return to Washington, accompanied by her dog, her longtime housekeeper and Nancy Corinne Prowda, the eldest daughter of Representative Nancy Pelosi of California, the former House speaker who has been a longtime friend of Ms. Feinstein’s and has been practically living at her house during her recovery.
The senator’s relationship with Ms. Pelosi’s daughter goes back decades. The Pelosi family grew up across the street from Ms. Feinstein, people close to her said, and Ms. Prowda has been close with Ms. Feinstein since she was a child, looking up to her as a maternal figure.
But the senator’s condition and the political drama surrounding her fate has drawn so much scrutiny that even the presence of one of her closest friends during her convalescence has drawn speculation. Some have read Ms. Prowda’s involvement as a tacit endorsement by Ms. Pelosi of Ms. Feinstein’s decision to stay on, reasoning that it could give Representative Adam B. Schiff, Democrat of California and Ms. Pelosi’s chosen candidate in the crowded race to replace Ms. Feinstein in 2024, a leg up. Mr. Newsom has committed to appointing a Black woman to the seat should it become vacant…
… Some current and former colleagues said the situation was alarming to watch and blamed Senate Republicans — who blocked Ms. Feinstein’s request for a temporary replacement on the Judiciary Committee — for upsetting images and sound bites of an infirm and confused senator trying to navigate the Capitol.
“Republicans are responsible for this nightmare scenario that’s unfolding,” said former Senator Barbara Boxer, who made history with Ms. Feinstein in 1992 as the first female senators elected from California. “I am sick at heart at that. I blame them for being mean to her and spinning it to blame the Democrats.”
1. She's already announced her retirement
2. She's been on judiciary since 1992, when she was first elected.
3. 129 federal judges confirmed since Joe Biden took over with a 50-50 majority for one half of it, faster than any President since Reagan.
You're out of your depth. https://t.co/KE2fUH4uF0
— DiFi Goon Squad (@TonyMoonbeam) May 18, 2023
The Washington Post:
… Republicans blocked a proposal to allow Feinstein to be temporarily replaced on the Judiciary Committee during her months-long absence, putting more pressure on Feinstein to return while a few judges languished in the committee.
Democrats celebrated Feinstein’s return last week, given her vote is often crucial to push through the priorities of their narrow majority in the Senate. Sen. Richard J. Durbin (D-Ill.), chair of the Judiciary Committee who has complained that her absence hamstrung his committee at a crucial time, expressed his “relief” on May 12 that she was back. Her return also takes pressure off Schumer, who now can count on Feinstein’s vote when needed for close confirmations — even if her health troubles appear to be lingering…
She’s resisted calls to step aside from some Democrats before, including when she ran for reelection at 85 years old in 2018. But she has also slowly relinquished some of her Senate roles since then. She stepped down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee when she was on track to become the first woman to chair the powerful panel. And last year, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) became president pro tempore of the Senate, a position third in line to the presidency given to the most senior senator of the party in power, after Feinstein declined to take the title…
You mean the party that was openly saying they would hold a SCOTUS seat open for the entirety of Hillary Clinton’s term had she won in 2016? Those Republicans? https://t.co/WkxeTR5TRp
— Jason Karsh (@jkarsh) May 19, 2023
It’s truly silly to believe the highest (and only!) moral question of the Feinstein situation is whether individual staffers should resign or be able to hold jobs in the future, with no consideration for enabling the GOP to block all judicial appointments for the next 18 months.
— The Fig Economy (@figgityfigs) May 18, 2023