In light of her recent behavior and advanced age, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is facing renewed scrutiny over perceptions that her cognitive function has diminished.
The 87-year-old senator has reacted to the most recent reports casting her ability to perform the job into question, saying that she believes she is representing her constituents as competently as possible.
“Defend her and make her seem normal”
Her latest defensive comments came after a volley of criticism from within her own party over her courteousness during the confirmation hearings for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Feinstein took particularly harsh flak for her kind words to Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-SC) before briefly embracing her Republican colleague.
Since then, a New Yorker article claiming she suffers from serious short-term memory loss led to additional public doubts surrounding her future in the Senate.
One former aide reportedly said that Feinstein’s “staff is in such a bad position,” adding that they “have to defend her and make her seem normal.”
Furthermore, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer allegedly held a series of “painful” discussions with Feinstein about stepping down from her position of party leadership. Unfortunately, she continually forgot them, forcing Schumer to repeat the same conversation in what one source likened to the film Groundhog Day.
“If it changes, I’ll let you know”
When confronted by reporters on the subject, however, Feinstein made it clear that she does not see a problem.
She will be 91 when her current term ends in 2024, but she is thus far showing no signs that she is contemplating early retirement.
“Well, if it changes, I’ll let you know,” she said.
Asked if she believes she has the ability to carry out her important duties, Feinstein was adamant.
“I do,” she said. “I work hard. I have good staff. I think I am productive. And I represent the people of California as well as I possibly can.”
Even if the senator is not as sharp as she once was, one former aide concluded that “she’s still smarter and quicker than at least a third of the other members.”