Those who advocate for term limits in Congress are well aware that many senators and representatives have created a career on Capitol Hill by serving in positions much beyond their competence and skills.
Although some people remain active and attentive in their later years, the elderly may be unable to keep up with politics, are out of touch with constituents, and are merely figureheads supported by employees.
Such scenarios are material for humor on television and in movies, but there are real-life examples of this in our government today.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, a Democrat, has been a senator for thirty years, having been elected in 1992. Unless the person has cognitive decline and disorientation, such an encounter is helpful. There have been allegations about Feinstein’s cognitive impairment for years.
The New York Times reported last May regarding Feinstein that “Democrats have quietly accepted the California senator’s memory issues as the status quo, even as her inner circle frets that the spectacle of her difficulties on the job could tarnish her legacy.”
The Times noted that she “sometimes struggles to recall the names of colleagues, frequently has little recollection of meetings or telephone conversations, and at times walks around in a state of befuddlement – including about why she is increasingly dogged by questions about whether she is fit to serve in the Senate representing the 40 million residents of California” according to half a dozen lawmakers and aides who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“Really, for the last couple of years, I’ve been hearing that Dianne Feinstein has been struggling, particularly with short-term memory issues, so that her staff will brief her and then she’ll forget what she’s been told or that she’s been briefed at all,” The New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer said in 2020.
As a result, it is no surprise that Feinstein’s reign is coming to an end. However, in a recent news conference, she declared that she will run again. Her staff members hurried to correct her as she made the assertion.
After announcing her retirement online Tuesday, Feinstein, 89, was recorded at a press gaggle saying: “Well, I haven’t made that decision. I haven’t released anything. “ A staffer responded to her: “Senator, we put out the statement.” Feinstein replied, “You put out the statement? I didn’t know they had put it out. So, it is what it is. I think the time has come.”
The reporters overheard her saying that she had no idea her staff had announced her retirement and that she had not decided not to run in 2024. According to Savannah Behrmann of the National Journal, the tape sounded as though Feinstein remarked, “I should have known they put it out.”
.@SenFeinstein appeared to be unaware that her staff released a statement that she's stepping down in 2025.
Here's audio of when reporters asked her about it & she responded "I haven't released anything."
In recent years, questions have arisen about her short term memory. pic.twitter.com/HLvZTaNTqs
— Elex Michaelson (@Elex_Michaelson) February 15, 2023
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
And with that unfortunate exchange, it was revealed not only that Feinstein is ending her Senate career, but also that it is a wise and timely decision. She is the oldest sitting Senator serving at this time. Her statement implies that she will still be active in the Senate during her remaining months in matters that affect her state of California. CONTINUE READING…