At 87 years old, Dianne Feinsten has represented California in the US Senate since 1992, and was previously the mayor of San Francisco between 1978 and 1988. After a long career in public service, the New Yorker reported on Thursday that her mind simply isn’t what it used to be.
According to the magazine, Feinstein’s “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.” Rumors of the California Democrat’s decline have been out in the open for some time, backed up by videos of her bumbling through public statements and fueled by the gossip-hungry conservative press. Video footage of a Senate hearing last month, for example, showed Feinstein asking the same question twice of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
“Feinstein’s staff has said that sometimes she seems herself, and other times unreachable,” the New Yorker continued, adding that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tried several times to talk Feinstein into retiring, only to have the octogenarian senator forget about the conversations soon afterwards. “It was like Groundhog Day, but with the pain fresh each time,” an anonymous source told the New Yorker.
Feinstein’s apparent decline serves as a reminder that the Senate is an ageing institution. Some 48 senators – just under half – are over the age of 65. Should Republicans hold a majority in the upper chamber next year, Feinstein will likely be replaced as Senate Judiciary Committee chair by Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley, who is just three months younger than her.
The spotlight on Feinstein led some conservatives to roll their eyes, wondering why the magazine didn’t focus on Joe Biden’s mental acuity during his apparently successful run for the White House this year.
Has anyone told The New Yorker about Joe Biden https://t.co/mXVpPwJrFl
— Caleb Hull (@CalebJHull) December 10, 2020
Biden's cognitive decline is much more obvious than Feinstein's. Left-wing media is simply out to destroy her because she gave Lindsey Graham a hug. https://t.co/biHldEIOBc
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) December 10, 2020
Stand her next to Biden, she'll seem smart as a whip. https://t.co/eUYHOO6eMw
— Derek Hunter (@derekahunter) December 10, 2020
Biden’s apparent cognitive decline became the stuff of thousands of internet memes during his campaign. The former vice president was videoed mumbling his way through speeches, forgetting where he was, and occasionally lapsing out of coherent English, as he did when he told a crowd that he’d “lead an effective strategy to mobilize trunalimunumaprzure.”
— Colin Mac Hale (@colin_mac_hale) December 9, 2020
Yet accusations of senility and decline were largely brushed aside by the mainstream media, who were evidently more concerned with unseating Donald Trump than examining his opponent. The New Yorker ran multiplearticles probing Trump’s mental health, but stayed shtum on Biden’s.
Feinstein’s name has cropped up in the news and on Twitter frequently in recent days, for reasons unrelated to her age. After California Rep. Eric Swalwell (D) was revealed to have cosied up to an alleged Chinese spy, allowing her to place “at least one” intern in his office, commentators brought up Feinstein’s own relationship with a Chinese spy, whom she employed as a driver for two decades.
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