The media joins Dem pile-on against Feinstein after ‘concealing’ Fetterman’s health condition in 2022
The subjects of mental and physical competency in elected office has become a fierce debate in recent months. Back in February, Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley called for a mandatory cognitive test for politicians 75 and older, a not-so-subtle dig at 80-year-old President Biden and her 76-year-old GOP rival former President Trump. Poll after poll have shown voters, even among Democrats, increasingly concerned about Biden’s age as he seeks reelection in 2024. And his presidency has not been short of gaffes, verbal stumbles and various memory lapses.
Such health concerns have also bled into the Senate, particularly towards two Democrats.
The first is California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who returned to Capitol Hill in early May following a roughly three-month absence due to shingles, which was later revealed to have led to neurological complications from Ramsay Hunt syndrome that affected her brain and face. This came following months of reports alleging Feinstein’s mental decline.
The second is Pennsylvania Sen. John Fetterman, who similarly had a lengthy absence after he was hospitalized in February for depression believed to have been stemmed from a stroke he suffered a year ago (he returned to work in April). Like Feinstein, concerns about Fetterman’s fitness to serve clouded his low-profile Senate campaign though he ultimately won his race despite them.
Both the senior and freshman Democrats have made unflattering headlines as of late. Slate reported that Feinstein claimed she hadn’t been gone from the Senate and told a reporter “I’ve been working” the entire time. She also reportedly confused Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C. with then newly-elected Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., accidently congratulating Scott for Warnock’s own victory during a 2021 interaction. Meanwhile, Fetterman had gone viral over his incoherent line of questioning at the Senate Banking Committee hearing, something that was further exacerbated by his office who was caught doctoring his spoken remarks after a Washington Post reporter unwittingly tweeted one out believing it was a direct quote.
But that’s where their similarities end.
Feinstein, who is just days away from turning 90 years old and is set to formally retire at the end of her term in January 2025, has been increasingly facing calls for her resignation, notably echoing a growing sentiment among Democrats. Before her return to Capitol Hill, The New York Times editorial board wrote “If she cannot fulfill her obligations to the Senate and to her constituents, she should resign and turn over her responsibilities to an appointed successor.”
Her absence fueled consternation in the legacy press, particularly since she was widely blamed from halting the confirmation of Biden’s judicial nominees as a key vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee. In April, The Los Angeles Times editorial board hinted for her to step down, writing “With the balance of power so tenuous in Washington and the stakes so high at every election, there’s no leeway to keep missing critical votes. We wish Feinstein well in the coming days as she considers perhaps the most difficult decision of her long, storied career.”
A Times editorial writer recently penned a piece with the headline “The Feinstein dilemma: When is a lawmaker no longer able to serve?”
Joseph A. Wulfsohn | Fox News