Senator Dianne Feinstein, 88, is denying claims that her mental acuity has diminished to the point where she should no longer serve in office.
On Thursday, the San Fransisco Chronicle reported that four U.S. Senators—three of them Democrats—three former Feinstein staffers, and a California Democratic member of Congress believe that Feinstein’s “memory is rapidly deteriorating” and that “it appears she can no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff doing much of the work required to represent the nearly 40 million people of California.”
Feinstein responded to the article’s allegations later that day, telling the Chronicle‘s editorial board during an interview, “I meet regularly with leaders. I’m not isolated. I see people. My attendance is good. I put in the hours. We represent a huge state. And so I’m rather puzzled by all of this.”
Asked if her colleagues have directly questioned her about her cognitive abilities, Feinstein said, “No, that conversation has not happened. The real conversation is whether I’m an effective representative for 40 million people.”
Although Feinstein, who has served in the Senate for 30 years, admitted that she had failed to recognize the face of a member of Congress she recently met with, she attributed the incident to the February death of her husband of 42 years, Richard Blum.
“I’ve had a rough year. A cancer death doesn’t come fast. And this is the second husband I’ve lost to cancer,” she said.
The editorial board reports that “Feinstein came off as diminished but lucid and responsive,” adding, “It was clear from our conversation with the senator that moments of clarity still reign.”
Feinstein does not plan to step down before her term is up in 2024 but she has not said if she’ll run for another term.
On Friday, The New Republic called on Feinstein to retire now, lamenting, “If only Feinstein had recognized the inevitable aging curve when she ran for reelection in 2018, knowing that she would be 91 when her term expired. Instead, she weakly won reelection with 55 percent of the vote against another Democrat in California’s general election. Now the hope is that her friends and loyal staff can convince her to retire with honor.”
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