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Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein who has served in the Senate since 1992 has passed away at the age of 90.
Senator Feinstein had been struggling with her health in recent years and spent a large chunk of 2023 away from the Senate.
She had planned to retire at the end of her current term which would have concluded in 2024.
Dianne Feinstein, the oldest member of the U.S. Senate and the longest-serving senator from California, has died at age 90, two sources familiar with the matter told NBC News on Friday.
Her passing marks the end of a boundary-pushing political career that spanned more than half a century, studded with major legislative achievements on issues including gun control and the environment.
It became very clear in recent years that she was no longer capable of doing the job.
In August, Business Insider revealed that Senator Feinstein’s daughter has Power of Attorney over her. While it’s unclear to what extent this was granted and it doesn’t necessarily mean that it was given because Feinstein was non compos mentis — mentally incapacitated — it is a bit of a red flag when it became clear that her staff was making decisions for the Senator.
In May, after she had been absent from the Senate for 3 months recovering from shingles and encephalitis (swelling of the brain) related to the shingles outbreak, she told reporters, “I haven’t been gone.”
Then there was this embarrassing moment in July when she didn’t seem to remember how to vote and had to be told by her staff to “just say ‘aye’.”
It’s quite a decline.
Once it became clear that Feinstein wasn’t the same woman that she once was, news organizations started talking about her amazing legacy.
And, as usual, the hagiographies are rolling in today, especially from her fellow Democrats.
Here is Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on the Senate floor this morning.
Chuck Schumer chokes back tears while honoring Dianne Feinstein on the Senate floor:
"We look at that desk, and we know what we have lost. But we also give thanks, thanks to someone so rarefied, so brave, so graceful a presence served in this chamber…" pic.twitter.com/VhiOMnAfmv
— Justin Baragona (@justinbaragona) September 29, 2023
Instead of all the flowery language by those who are now missing a seat in what is basically a 50/50 Senate, let’s just look at Feinstein’s public service journey from the Women’s Parole Board in California to the United States Senate.
Feinstein’s first foray into politics came in 1960 when then-Gov. Pat Brown appointed her to the California Women’s Parole Board. But it was in 1969, at the age of 35, that Feinstein first held public office, winning a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors…
…In the 1970s, while serving as the first female president of the Board of Supervisors, Feinstein ran twice for mayor, but lost. She had decided to not run again, when tragedy struck the city.
The tragic assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone by Supervisor Dan White in 1978 put Feinstein in the job. In 1979, Feinstein won her first full term as mayor and began reshaping the city.
During the decade she served, she survived a recall attempt, lead mostly by detractors of her proposal to ban handguns in San Francisco. She oversaw the remaking of the city’s skyline, which some decried as the Manhattan-ization of San Francisco, also oversaw a raucous 1984 Democratic National Convention and saved the city’s cable car system…
… In 1990, Feinstein set her sights on a higher office, running for California governor. She lost to Republican Pete Wilson, but still made history again as the first woman in the state to win a major party’s gubernatorial nomination. Then, in 1992, there was a turning point.
During what was dubbed the “Year of the Woman,” Feinstein was elected to the U.S. Senate, alongside Bay Area Congresswoman Barbara Boxer.
Source: ABC News 7
But those reports don’t include the Chinese spy who worked for Feinstein for 20 years.
Feinstein was a relentless gun-grabber who voted in lockstep with her party on particular issues when it counted for them.
She also rather famously attacked Amy Coney Barrett’s Catholic faith and ability to be objective during a 2017 confirmation hearing to the federal bench prior to her nomination to the Supreme Court.
In what appeared to be Feinstein applying a religious litmus-test, the California Senator told Coney Barrett, “The dogma lives loudly within you.”
Just a few years later, Feinstein was much more gentle in her questioning of Coney Barrett during the Supreme Court nomination process.
It was quite a difference after she caused the crap-storm during the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation hearing. It was Senator Feinstein that had received the letter from Christine Blasey Ford accusing Brett Kavanaugh of attempted rape at a party that she doesn’t recall the date for, at a place she doesn’t quite remember, and everyone that she said was there denies that there was a party. The leak of Ford’s letter is what started the ball rolling for the outrageous and ridiculous smears and accusations against Kavanaugh.
Here’s how it all started:
Feinstein also stayed way past her ability to do the job. The United States Senate is a legislative body, not a nursing home for people who want to keep receiving a full taxpayer salary while passing off work on staffers.
But let’s not forget that she still had some pretty spectacular moments like this one where she puts environmental activists from the Sunrise movement in their place in front of the children they brought with them as human shields.
Senator Dianne Feinstein’s legacy is a mixed bag — she was more moderate than a number of her Democrat colleagues, and it’s unlikely that her replacement will be as equally moderate, but she was also comfortable as a vicious attack dog.
Still, she is a person made in God’s image who lived a long, storied life and has certainly made an impact — for better or for worse — in U.S. politics during her time in office.
She had a long time to prepare for this day. Let’s hope that she was ready to meet her Maker.