Worrying phone call adds to concerns about Dianne Feinstein’s cognitive health : NPR

Sen. Dianne Feinstein listens to Senate testimony on Capitol Hill on May 11.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Photographs

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Brendan Smialowski/AFP by means of Getty Photos

Sen. Dianne Feinstein listens to Senate testimony on Capitol Hill on May well 11.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Illustrations or photos

Journalist Rebecca Traister established out to compose a profile of the oldest sitting down U.S. senator, Dianne Feinstein of California, who turns 89 on June 22. And though Traister’s characteristic piece does center on Feinstein’s prolonged and storied occupation, it also evokes issues about the senator’s cognitive health and fitness.

NPR’s All Items Considered spoke with Traister, a writer for The Cut, about a worrying call she had with Feinstein two days following the faculty shooting in Uvalde, Texas.

“It felt to me to be deeply disconnected from the incredibly urgent and chilling realities that we are very significantly in the midst of,” Traister reported on All Issues Regarded as.

Traister experienced that 30-moment mobile phone conversation with Feinstein in the course of her reporting for her element piece, titled “Dianne Feinstein, the Institutionalist.” She wrote:

Very little she said recommended a deterioration over and above what would be ordinary for a man or woman her age, but neither did it display any urgent engagement with the many crises going through the nation. … Each issue I requested — about the radicalization of the GOP, the end of Roe, the failures of Congress — was fulfilled with a similar sunny imperviousness, evincing an undiminished perception in institutional ability that may possibly in reality explain a large amount about the place Feinstein and other Democratic leaders have gone incorrect.

With the U.S. grappling with a variety of crises and at a tense political second with the anticipated overturning of Roe v. Wade, the optimism felt out of spot.

Traister made it obvious that she was not creating any definitive remarks on Feinstein’s cognitive overall health, nor does she experience qualified to do so. However, she is not the 1st person to make observations about Feinstein’s cognitive health and fitness.

A misstep by Feinstein at a 2020 hearing further more fueled questions about her well being and the age of senators.

“Really, for the final couple of decades, I’ve been hearing that Dianne Feinstein has been struggling, significantly with shorter-term memory concerns, so that her staff members will temporary her and then she’ll ignore what she’s been instructed or that she’s been briefed at all,” Jane Mayer of The New Yorker told All Matters Thought of in 2020.

Mayer wrote an report highlighting troubles with how the Democratic Party ways seniority and how Feinstein has become central in that discussion. In 2018, California Democrats declined to endorse Feinstein for yet another term, nevertheless it was not a barrier to her reelection.

The present political technique rewards these with seniority, delivering incentives for elected officials to stretch out their tenures as lengthy as possible. Not only are folks equipped to maintain electric power, but there are also positive aspects for states to have senior officials, Traister mentioned.

“We are run by a gerontocracy on both of those the Democratic and Republican sides,” Traister said. “The Senate will work by supplying greater electric power to those who’ve been there for the longest.”

Feinstein is not the 1st senator to remain a long time, and some have pointed to her gender as a reason for heightened scrutiny. Notably, Strom Thurmond stayed in the Senate right up until he was 100.

With the 2024 election on the horizon, Feinstein is not eyeing an early exit and has maintained that she intends to serve right until the close of her phrase, Politico documented.