It took two weeks and change, but the New York Times has now turned around and done its own version of the story that the San Francisco Chronicle did, essentially saying the same things, about Senator Dianne Feinstein getting dotty and forgetful but not wanting to retire.
At 88 going on 89 next month, and with a couple of years of fairly cringe-y televised moments, it's been an open secret that Dianne Feinstein isn't the sharp tack she used to be. So the Chronicle's mid-April piece was hardly a bombshell that the Times needed to re-report immediately. Instead, they took some time to get a few extra quotes from lawmakers and Feinstein's stepdaughter, but there's no fresh reporting here other than to say no, Feinstein isn't likely to willingly retire, even after the embarrassment of the Chronicle piece and subsequent news coverage. And she apparently travels back and forth between California and Washington with her longtime housekeeper at her side.
The Times piece published Monday uses its own "half a dozen lawmakers and aides who spoke about the situation on the condition of anonymity," even though the Chronicle's piece was similarly sourced. And they all confirm that Feinstein is not talking about stepping down, but "Some of them said they did not expect her to serve out her term ending in 2024 under the circumstances."
Schumer was a bit more vague and pointed, telling a group of reporters after the Chronicle's piece "I’ve had a good number of discussions with Senator Feinstein, but I’m keeping them to myself."
One sort of relevant angle that the Times brings up is that the Democratic establishment saw Feinstein's decision to run again in 2018 as "a favor" to the party, avoiding an open-seat race in California so that donors could focus their energy elsewhere in the country. And this could be a big reason why no one wants to seem thankless in pushing for her retirement with two years left in her term.
Annette Blum, Feinstein's stepdaughter, tells the Times, "“We have the utmost respect for her life in public service and her career. The decision is ultimately hers. We will all be there to support her in whatever decision she makes. The whole family feels this way."
And the Times notes that Feinstein's late husband, Richard Blum, who passed away in February, was telling people as late as last year that his wife would likely "run again" in 2024, because, "What else is she going to do?"
Another lawmaker says that, despite maybe needing some help remembering details, Senator Feinstein still "calls the shots" in her office.
Feinstein herself issued a very similar statement to the Times to the one that she previously gave to CNN and other outlets, "“It’s true the last year has been difficult caring for my dying husband and grieving over his passing, but I’ve remained committed to achieving results and I would put my record up against anyone’s... If the question is whether I’m an effective senator for 40 million Californians, the record shows that I am."
So, she probably won't retire, at least unless something else very embarrassing happens this year.
Top image: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) speaks during the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing for U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown, in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 21, 2022 in Washington, DC. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's pick to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, will begin four days of nomination hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)