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Dianne Feinstein’s missteps raise a painful age question among Senate Democrats

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  1. skybrian
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    From the article:

    It was a good question. Feinstein seemed sharp and focussed. For decades, she has been the epitome of a female trailblazer in Washington, always hyper-prepared. But this time, after Dorsey responded, Feinstein asked him the same question again, reading it word for word, along with the Trump tweet. Her inflection was eerily identical. Feinstein looked and sounded just as authoritative, seemingly registering no awareness that she was repeating herself verbatim. Dorsey graciously answered the question all over again.

    [...]

    Some former Feinstein aides insist that rumors of her cognitive decline have been exaggerated, and that video clips taken out of context can make almost anyone look foolish. They also bridle at singling out her condition, because declining male senators, including Strom Thurmond, of South Carolina, and Robert Byrd, of West Virginia, were widely known by the end of their careers to be non-compos mentis.

    [...]

    But many others familiar with Feinstein’s situation describe her as seriously struggling, and say it has been evident for several years. Speaking on background, and with respect for her accomplished career, they say her short-term memory has grown so poor that she often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have. They describe Feinstein as forgetting what she has said and getting upset when she can’t keep up. One aide to another senator described what he called a “Kabuki” meeting in which Feinstein’s staff tried to steer her through a proposed piece of legislation that she protested was “just words” which “make no sense.” Feinstein’s staff has said that sometimes she seems herself, and other times unreachable. “The staff is in such a bad position,” a former Senate aide who still has business in Congress said. “They have to defend her and make her seem normal.”

    [...]

    Some who have watched the situation unfold fault Schumer, and the Democratic establishment in California, for not having intervened before Feinstein ran for reëlection in 2018. “She should have gone out on top in 2018,” said a former Senate aide who continues to admire her, but who pointed out that many of Feinstein’s peers retired selflessly. “We only have a hundred senators. I don’t think she should be there,” the former aide said. “Someone should have told her.” But it’s unclear whether Feinstein would have listened.

    6 votes