News & Politics

Dianne Feinstein's Mental Decline Has Her Staff, Chuck Schumer in 'Pain'

Erin Schaff/The New York Times via AP

Senator Dianne Feinstein’s mental decline has become so serious that her own staff compares her situation with “taking away car keys from an elderly relative.”

Jane Mayer reported for the New Yorker on Thursday that the long-serving California Democrat has had “several serious and painful talks” with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) about stepping aside from her position as the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Worse, Schumer had to advise Feinstein twice to step aside, according to Mayer’s “well-informed sources,” because she had no recollection of their first talk. The source told the New Yorker that the conversations were “like Groundhog Day, but with the pain fresh each time.”

Mayer wrote:

Overtures were also made to enlist the help of Feinstein’s husband, Richard Blum. Feinstein, meanwhile, was surprised and upset by Schumer’s message. He had wanted her to step aside on her own terms, with her dignity intact, but “she wasn’t really all that aware of the extent to which she’d been compromised.”

“Compromised” is all-too apt a word for Feinstein, after it was revealed in 2018 that her Senate staff was “infiltrated by a Chinese spy who worked as her driver and attended official functions on her behalf for 20 years.”

Graham Piro wrote yesterday for the Free Beacon that Feinstein “has issues with short-term memory, frequently forgetting briefings she receives from staff and becoming upset when she gets confused by briefings.”

The same source told Mayer that “anyone who has tried to take the car keys away from an elderly relative knows how hard it can be.” In this case, ‘It wasn’t just about a car. It was about the U.S. Senate.'”

Indeed.

Feinstein isn’t like my great-grandmother was in her decline, insisting on driving her ’79 Lincoln Continental Mark V long past the time she should have given up the keys. Feinstein has been driving one of the most powerful and important institutions in the country. As recently as October’s Amy Coney Barrett confirmation hearings, Feinstein faced “backlash” from left-wing groups over her handling of what they said was “a sham” process.

Nevertheless, a former Senate aide complained that Feinstein’s “staff is in such a bad position,” because “they have to defend her and make her seem normal.”

During Feinstein’s mental decline, the job of her staff isn’t to “defend her and make her seem normal,” but to get her to recognize the inevitable and do the right thing: Step aside and find whatever enjoyment she can in her dotage.

Feinstein, 87, last faced California voters just two years ago and will be 91 when her current term expires in four years.

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