Feinstein defends herself after Hometown Paper questioned her mental acuity


Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) on Thursday defended her ability to serve as the oldest member of the US Senate after a report from the San Francisco Chronicle claimed her health could be deteriorating.

The Chronicle report anonymously quotes four senators, including three Democrats, along with a House Democrat and three people who formerly worked in Feinstein’s office. The sources agreed that the 88-year-old senator was unable to fully perform her professional duties as her memory “deteriorated rapidly,” according to the story.

Her term ends in January 2025, when she will be 91 years old.

In a statement released late Thursday, Feinstein said, “I remain committed to doing what I said when I was re-elected in 2018: to fight for Californians, particularly on the economy and the key issues facing California, water and fire.”

She previously said she has no intention of retiring early.

Feinstein’s health has occasionally been questioned in recent years; in November 2020, for example, she repeated a question to Twitter executive Jack Dorsey word for word in a public hearing, without seeming to realize it. The New Yorker reported at the time that Feinstein’s short-term memory “has gotten so bad that she often forgets she was briefed on an issue and blames her co-workers for not doing so shortly after they did.” Feinstein even ran in California’s gubernatorial election last fall, amid the prospect that a Republican governor could replace her if she took early retirement.

The Chronicle reported this week that while those who expressed concern about her did so with great respect for her long career, which included serving as San Francisco’s first mayor, they observed that Feinstein’s memory was failing. She sometimes doesn’t recognize colleagues, she told the newspaper.

Critics of the Chronicle story pointed to Feinstein’s gender as certain older male senators who were not compos-mentis had not been subjected to the same scrutiny.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 82, gave the Chronicle a harshly worded defense of her California compatriot, calling Feinstein “a workaholic” and the questions about her health “ridiculous.”

The allegations are “unscrupulous,” Pelosi said in light of the death of Feinstein’s husband, financier Richard Blum, a few weeks ago in late February.

“While my focus for the past year has largely been my husband’s health and eventual demise, I remain committed to delivering results and I would compare my record to anyone’s performance,” Feinstein said in her statement Thursday.

She went on to tout her work to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act and secure federal funding for California firefighters, among other things.

“The real question is, am I still an effective representative for 40 million Californians, and the record shows I am,” her statement read. Feinstein defends herself after Hometown Paper questioned her mental acuity

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