Digging Through Feinstein's Record

[ Posted Tuesday, October 10th, 2017 – 17:10 UTC ]

I have to warn everyone up front that this is going to be a pretty long and wonky column that really accomplishes nothing that yesterday's column didn't already cover. It's going to be a deep dive into Senator Dianne Feinstein's record over the past decade, as measured by my own subjective views. So if that sort of thing doesn't appeal to you, I'd advise just skipping today's column altogether. Consider yourselves duly warned.

Yesterday, I laid out the reasons why I was disappointed to hear that Dianne Feinstein would be seeking re-election. Since then, I've seen a few other articles also expressing dismay over the news. So I thought it'd be worthwhile to take a look at how I've judged Feinstein over the years. While thinking about yesterday's column, I dug into my own archives to see what Feinstein's score had added up to. I did this by combing the "Friday Talking Points" all-time awards list, to see where she stood. Her current tally is seven Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week awards, and fifteen Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards. That's worse than 2-to-1 against, obviously. I did not take into consideration any "Honorable Mention" or "(Dis-)Honorable Mention" awards, because I do not keep statistics for the minor awards.

Over the past ten years, here are all the occasions when Feinstein was awarded either "Most Impressive" or "Most Disappointing." I'll start with the positive awards and end up with the negatives. It bears pointing out that this only goes back as far as the column's archives, meaning anything before that time (her Iraq War vote, etc.) is not included. Oh, and one more thing -- some of the links in these excerpts are pretty old, so I can't vouch that they'll all work anymore.


Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week

FTP [30] 5/2/08

Senator Feinstein wins for her refusal to let the torture issue die. Just last week she got an amendment inserted into this year's intelligence authorization bill to restrict the C.I.A. from using any interrogation techniques not found in the Army Field Manual. Read the full details from her Senate web page, or from the Associated Press. For boldly standing up to Bush once again, even in the face of a veto threat, Senator Feinstein has earned her MIDOTW award this week.


FTP [48] 9/19/08

Because the award this week goes to an unlikely pair, Senators Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and Dianne Feinstein of California. Feingold and Feinstein introduced a bill which would require the Attorney General to tell Congress every time the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) decides that the president is not bound by some law or another.


FTP [73] 4/10/09

The Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award this week goes to six Democratic senators who at least tried to get the Obama administration to consider being a bit more strict with Wall Street.

The surprising thing is how "moderate" most of them are. Senator Dianne Feinstein, for instance, has crossed the aisle more times to vote with the Republicans for pro-business measures than I can count. Not exactly a flaming leftist, our Dianne. The full list of these senators, from the Newsweek story where it was reported: Maria Cantwell, Byron Dorgan, Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, Bernie Sanders, and Jim Webb. Now, Sanders is admittedly about as far left as you can get, and he apparently had a lot to do with provoking the meeting, but the rest of them are a pretty centrist bunch. And if even the centrists are suggesting tougher regulations, doesn't that mean that it's now politically viable to do so?


FTP [174] 7/22/11

Because this week, none other than Senator Dianne Feinstein wins the coveted Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Feinstein held hearings this week on getting rid of the other odious federal anti-gay policy, the Defense Of Marriage Act. She also introduced a bill in the Senate to wipe DOMA off the books.

Of course, she knows it is simply not going to pass the Republican House. It may, in fact, not even pass the Senate this year. But that doesn't mean it isn't worth pushing. DOMA is going to cause all sorts of unnecessary complications with dropping DADT in the military, and it is flat-out unconstitutional on the face of it. DOMA may actually be overturned through the courts, but that certainly isn't any sort of reason for Democrats in Congress to stop trying to get rid of it legislatively.

Senator Feinstein is taking the lead in this fight right now, and for doing so she certainly deserves the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award. Keep fighting the good fight, DiFi!


FTP [314] 8/1/14

But the coveted Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award has to go to none other than Senator Dianne Feinstein. We must in all fairness admit that this award is not for anything she did or said this week, but instead for her recent vindication. Back in March, we awarded Feinstein a (Dis-)Honorable Mention for complaining about the C.I.A. spying on her staffers (her hypocrisy was obvious, considering her stance on spying on Americans in general).

The C.I.A. vociferously denied the charge, and in payback tried to get the Justice Department to investigate the staffers in question for mishandling secret documents. This week, the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency actually apologized to Feinstein. More on all that in the next section, though.

This whole spat is just a precursor to a very explosive document which is almost ready to be released to the public. Feinstein has doggedly been working on a report on the use of torture and all the other "enhanced" things done in all our names by our government, in the time immediately after 9/11. The full report is rumored to be 6,000 pages long. But a publicly-available report (scrubbed of some secret information) is almost ready for release. It may be out as early as next week, or it may come out right after the August congressional vacation. Either way, it is going to make huge headlines.

For both being proven right about the C.I.A. illegally spying on her Senate staffers' computers, for getting the head of the agency to apologize to her, and for her persistence in creating this report in the first place, Senator Dianne Feinstein is our Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week.


FTP [330] 12/12/14

But the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week this week belongs to Senator Dianne Feinstein. She not only held a years-long investigation of what the C.I.A. had done in all our names, but she pushed very strongly to release a 600-page summary of the report to the American public. She will be losing her committee chairmanship in January, so this was the last chance she had to get the report out there. She had to overcome Republican resistance as well as a White House that wanted to black out so much of the report as to make it meaningless.

What Feinstein accomplished will likely become her namesake in the very near future. Much like the "Church Committee" (named for its chairman Frank Church), we will likely all start referring to the "Feinstein Torture Report" from now on. Dianne Feinstein is no raging liberal (ask any real raging liberal, they'll tell you), and regularly disappoints lefties on many national security issues. But this was her week to shine, and the Feinstein Torture Report has certainly earned her this week's Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week award.


FTP [351] 6/19/15

Snark aside, this week's winner of the Most Impressive Democrat Of The Week is none other than Senator Dianne Feinstein. Now, as any regular reader of this column can attest, we're not the biggest fans of our very own senior senator. However, on one subject DiFi (as we like to call her) stands head and shoulders above the all other politicians in Washington, with the possible exception of John McCain. That subject is torture.

Feinstein has been leading the charge to both get the American government to admit what it did -- torture prisoners -- and also to do everything humanly possible to make sure it never happens again. This goal got a lot closer this week, when Feinstein won a successful vote in the Senate to codify this basic idea -- not torturing anyone -- into federal law. President Obama, of course, changed America's course when he came into office by immediately banning torture, but since this was just a presidential directive, it could conceivably be overturned by any future president. This is important, since of the four Republicans running for the office who currently sit in the Senate, only two of them voted to permanently ban torture in U.S. law this week (Rand Paul and Ted Cruz). Of the other two, Lindsey Graham (who, due to his career as a military lawyer, should really know better) voted against it. Marco Rubio was too chicken to even vote, but later said he would have voted against it.

The vote was a stunningly-lopsided 78-21 to ban torture. All Democrats voted in favor of the restriction.

While this represents a strong statement of American values, the measure still has to make it through the Republican-controlled House, so there's no guarantee it'll make it to the president's desk in its current form.

Still, the credit for getting the measure through the Senate in such spectacularly bipartisan fashion belongs to Senator Feinstein. Feinstein has been instrumental in exposing the brutalities of America torturing prisoners in the past, and this week she was instrumental in trying to make it impossible for any future president to contemplate repeating the actions of George W. Bush.


OK, that takes care of the plus side of the ledger. Now let's take a look at all the times Dianne Feinstein has turned in a disappointing performance in the past decade.


Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week

FTP [7] 10/26/07

But the winner of the MDDOTW award this week goes to Dianne Feinstein, (DINO-CA) who helped President Bush out on his photo op to tour the Southern California fires by standing so her face was visible in every picture of the event (sorry, but I refuse to even link to any such photos). Nothing like helping President Bush with his approval ratings, for no apparent reason. Heck of a job, DiFi!


FTP [9] 11/9/07

However, six Democrats and Joe Lieberman did vote in favor of Mukasey. Senator Lieberman, along with Ben Nelson, Evan Bayh, Mary Landrieu, and Tom Carper all get dis-honorable mention this week for casting their vote for the nation's top law enforcement officer who apparently is unclear what "torture" means. For shame!

But the award itself is a tie this week, shared equally by Senator Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer. Because it was their votes on the Judiciary Committee last Friday which moved the Mukasey nomination to the floor of the Senate. Neither one is up for election any time soon, so they apparently felt safe to side with President Bush. For this craven display Feinstein and Schumer are both awarded the Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week.


FTP [19] 2/15/08

Harry Reid tried to get in on the fun by issuing strong statements on FISA as well, but he's just hoping we didn't notice that it was his Senate that passed the bill that Bush is arguing for. So I will not deign to repeat Harry's comments on the House action, because I simply do not believe him.

Why is this man still Senate Majority Leader? Anyone?

But he doesn't win MDDOTW this week, because it is a 21-way tie for the Senate Democrats who voted for the bill, or voted against stripping out the telecom amnesty. This week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award goes equally to all of them.

Here are the senators who earned this award by their votes. There were three important votes (stripping immunity out of the bill, the cloture vote, and the vote to pass the bill itself) and these senators voted with Bush and the Republicans on at least one of them:

Max Baucus, Evan Bayh, Thomas Carper, Robert Casey, Kent Conrad, Dianne Feinstein, Daniel Inouye, Tim Johnson, Herb Kohl, Mary Landrieu, Blanche Lincoln, Claire McCaskill, Barbara Mikulski, Bill Nelson, Benjamin Nelson, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Ken Salazar, Debbie Stabenow, Jim Webb, Sheldon Whitehouse.

It's also worth mentioning that Barack Obama voted against Bush on the first two votes, and skipped the third (they all happened on the same day). Hillary Clinton skipped all three votes.


FTP [60] 1/9/09

But Bobby Rush will have to share this week's award with Senator Dianne Feinstein. DiFi, as we in California endearingly call her, was all over the place last week. All over the place in the news, and all over the place on her positions. First she threw a hissy fit because she didn't get a phone call before Leon Panetta's appointment to head the CIA was leaked to the press (Feinstein is incoming chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee). She later backed down a bit, which meant the entire exercise was reminiscent of Newt Gingrich throwing a snit for not exiting the airplane sooner when traveling with President Clinton. Not to be outdone, she made headlines again by being the first senator to publicly cave over the Burris appointment. Just last week DiFi signed a letter from every Senate Democrat saying they wouldn't seat Burris, and then she apparently had a change of heart. And, while it didn't make the headlines as much, she also showed an astonishing level of hypocrisy as the chair of the Presidential Inaugural Committee by reintroducing a bill to make selling an inaugural ticket a federal offense punishable by a year in jail and a $100,000 fine -- even though you can buy tickets for $50,000 from the inauguration folks themselves. DiFi reintroduced a bill she unsuccessfully pushed last year -- except this time, she specifically exempted the $50,000 ticket sales, saying: "Unlike unscrupulous Web sites and ticket scalpers, there is no 'profit' made by presidential inaugural committees in giving these tickets to people in return for inaugural donations." That's just great. DiFi is on the record against "profit," while supporting "pay-to-play" politics. Rarely is raw hypocrisy on such open display in the political world.


FTP [62] 1/23/09
[Note: Feinstein was the chair of the first Barack Obama inauguration committee, and since I attended the event, I had a very long list of gripes as to how it was organized (or, more accurately, at how disorganized it was). Follow the above link to read the full gripe-fest, which concluded with:]

This all could have been averted by about two officers at every major point (Metro exits, Mall entrances) with bullhorns telling the crowd what to do. That's all it would have taken. We would have cheerfully followed any directions given. The problem was, there was no directions at all from anyone.

In other words, no master plan. And that's just for the public areas of the Mall itself. People who had tickets -- thousands upon thousands of them -- were also denied entry at several locations. They did what they were told to do, lined up where they were told, and they just did not get in. No master plan at all.

Now, Feinstein has called for an investigation of what went wrong. If you were there and have a story to tell them, or some advice, use the email address below to let them know. Hopefully, they'll get the message.

But this locking of the barn door after the horses have fled isn't good enough for Dianne Feinstein to avoid her MDDOTW award. Because she spent all her congressional efforts, and assumably a lot of time and attention, on making it against federal law to sell Inauguration tickets. That was her main worry. So my suggestion is: next time, spend the same amount of time and effort on a master crowd control plan before the event, and don't worry about a little free enterprise with the tickets. Which is why Dianne Feinstein gets a Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award (her fifth, I should add).


FTP [83] 6/26/09
[Note: The preface to the following came from an article Joe Conason wrote about the pernicious influence of healthcare industry campaign donations to Democrats, and how it could derail what became the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.]

Conason mentions, by name: Louisiana's Mary Landrieu, Oregon's Ron Wyden, California's Dianne Feinstein, North Dakota's Kent Conrad, and Montana's Max Baucus. To this list I have but one addition, Nebraska's Ben Nelson. All six share equally in this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award.

Let's take them one by one.

. . .

Dianne Feinstein, who reaped a whirlwind of wrath for saying last week that "I don't know that [Obama] has the votes [in the Senate] right now [for his plan]" is less culpable than the others in this list, because if you read the whole transcript you can (possibly) read it (especially if you read the second paragraph of her answer -- which is not being quoted much -- towards the very end of the transcript) as just an honest assessment by DiFi of where the whip count stands. Or, you can read it as DiFi "nay-saying" and showing Democrats how to begin a legislative fight by tying both hands behind your back. But since it's open to interpretation, you will have to judge for yourself. has stepped up to this particular plate already, and has an ad out attacking Feinstein for her tepid statements towards the public plan. But, unlike others, at least Feinstein is still publicly supporting the concept of a public plan in the first place, I have to say.


FTP [137] 9/3/10

DiFi, as we like to call here in California, presents an interesting qualification conundrum to the MDDOTW awards committee here, since the question always arises: "DiFi's such a DINO that we pretty much expect her to be disappointing, so can you really call it 'disappointing' when her actions just vindicate our already-low expectations?" But then we come to our senses, and leave such navel-gazing to Zen masters. "Of course DiFi's fair game for the MDDOTW," we say to ourselves, "and she should be glad we don't hand her one every single week for that matter!"

Ahem. We seem to have veered off into being unseemly once again, which we of course apologize for.

But it's hard not to get annoyed at DiFi, because she makes it all too easy to do so. It was announced this week that DiFi will be co-chair of the effort to defeat a proposition before California voters this year which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana.

Now, virtually every Democrat in office or running for office has come out against Proposition 19, which is kind of to be expected. Republicans have been using the blunt object of "soft on crime" against Democrats since Nixon's time, which has made Democrats terrified of taking any political risks in this area -- especially when it comes to the subject of the "War On Drugs." Pretty much every Democrat who is running for office this year in California, from Barbara Boxer to Jerry Brown, has come out against Prop 19. As stated, this was to be expected.

But DiFi wasn't content to merely oppose it, she decided to lead the effort. Even this might be seen as somewhat excusable, were she in the midst of a tough re-election campaign. But she isn't. She doesn't have to defend her seat for years. So, instead of working hard for her fellow Democrat Barbara Boxer (who is in a very tough campaign) or -- I don't know, doing the nation's business, perhaps -- Feinstein will be spending her time for the next few months leading a political effort in her state in the hopes that it will be politically advantageous for her to do so.


FTP [148] 12/3/10
[Note: In all honesty and humility, chutzpocrisy never went viral or anything.]

Stand back, everybody, I feel a new word coinage coming on. Because it is necessary to combine "chutzpah" and "hypocrisy" to form the new term "chutzpocrisy" to adequately describe Senator Dianne Feinstein's plea for ending the Bush tax cuts on millionaires this week. Her "Won't somebody please stop me?" plea ran on the Huffington Post, and is worth reading just for the belly laughs (it starts off with the maudlin: " I don't know a single millionaire who needs a tax cut right now").

This is the sheerest chutzpocrisy. What DiFi (as we Californians endearingly call her) fails to mention is that she voted for the Bush tax cuts in the first place. That's right -- she voted with Republicans to pass the original bills back in 2001. That would just be standard-level hypocrisy, though. Where the chutzpah comes in is the fact that she is one of the wealthiest members of Congress, and reportedly quadrupled her millions during the Bush tax cut era (not even counting her wealthy husband's sky-high pile of dough).

So, DiFi, cry me no crocodile tears now, please. Spare me the false "I'm for the little guy" rhetoric, if you would. When you stand up and announce to the world that you have calculated every single penny which you would have had to pay in taxes over the past ten years if the Bush tax cuts hadn't been enacted (which you voted for), and have written a check to the federal treasury for that amount, then -- and only then -- will I listen to a single word you have to say on the subject. Because until you do that, it's nothing but rank chutzpocrisy. For which you have won the first of our two Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week awards this week.


FTP [240] 1/11/13

Our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week is also a multiple award, to the seven Senate Democrats who have not gotten on board with filibuster reform yet. There is a movement to force filibustering senators to actually filibuster -- you know, stand up and talk endlessly, in Mr.-Smith-Goes-To-Washington style. They've got 48 of the 50 votes they need (with Biden's vote to break the tie, if necessary). But, for some inexplicable reason, seven normally-reasonable Democrats haven't indicated they'll vote for it. These seven are: Senators Carl Levin, Mark Pryor, Patrick Leahy, Max Baucus, Jack Reed, Barbara Boxer, and Dianne Feinstein. Now, it's normal to see people like Dianne Feinstein voting with Republicans, but Barbara Boxer? Pat Leahy? What the heck are they thinking?


FTP [280] 11/1/13

Speaking of full context, here's a quote from Casablanca:

Rick: How can you close me up? On what grounds?

Captain Renault: I'm shocked -- shocked! -- to find that gambling is going on in here!

[a croupier hands Renault a pile of money]

Croupier: Your winnings, sir.

Captain Renault: [sotto voce] Oh, thank you very much.

We were reminded of this quote by the performance of Senator Dianne Feinstein this week. DiFi (as we like to call her) was miffed -- absolutely miffed -- that the National Security Agency was spying on leaders of our allies. She called for "a total review of all intelligence programs" in response. Except for the fact that she is the chair of the Senate intelligence committee and is therefore supposed to already know this stuff. It brings to mind the laughable statement from Arnold Schwarzenegger when he ran for governor of California, on the subject of his groping of women, when he swore that if he was elected, he would investigate himself. There's all sorts of appropriate metaphors to choose from (even O.J. and the "real killer"), but we've decided to run with Casablanca today.

DiFi is shocked -- shocked, mind you -- that the N.S.A. has been overstepping any rational bounds of what it should be doing. And, furthermore, bugging Angela Merkel's telephone is somehow more shocking than the same thing happening to every constitutionally-protected American citizen.

But the real reason DiFi wins this week's Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week (her tenth, we should mention) is that in the very same week, she got a bill through her committee which would retroactively legalize all the spying the N.S.A.'s been doing, under the guise of "reforming" the N.S.A.'s mandate. So while she's shocked -- shocked! -- about the existence of gambling, she's pushing a bill which would make it legal to gamble, as long as everyone dresses as nice as James Bond (or something).

To get all European here, there is only one possible response to DiFi: "It is to laugh, no?" Have fun with that total review of everything you're supposed to be doing, Senator Feinstein. Let us know how it all turns out, OK?


FTP [332] 1/16/15

But our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week was Senator Dianne Feinstein, who reacted to the news that former general David Petraeus is in hot water for allegedly leaking classified information to the woman he was having an affair with by saying "the man has suffered enough," which was truly the height of hypocrisy for Feinstein. I wrote extensively about this on Monday, for those unfamiliar with the details.

Feinstein is usually the one out there breathing fire and demanding that the entire book be thrown at such leakers. She certainly has no sympathy for the likes of Edward Snowden, just to name one example. For her to go all softhearted for Petraeus stinks to the skies of "it shouldn't be a crime when my friends do it" elitism.

There are only two honorable positions to hold on the legal matter of leaking classified information to journalists: both Petraeus and Snowden should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, or neither of them should. To pick and choose is simply not an honorable option.


FTP [386] 4/8/16

There was a Senate hearing on marijuana this week. It was a complete sham -- one of those hearings where only one viewpoint is even allowed in the room, where all the witnesses are selected so they can echo back the opinions the senators already hold. In this case, the opinion (as espoused by Jeff Sessions): "that good people don't smoke marijuana."

The four witnesses called were: a critic of the Obama marijuana policy, a prosecutor "who led raids on pot farms in California," a state attorney general who had sued Colorado over legalization, and a board member of an organization dedicated to stopping the legalization movement. Pretty fair and balanced, eh?

. . .

What we find massively disappointing, though, is to see one of California's own senators enthusiastically joining in. Because Grassley's co-chair is none other than Senator Dianne Feinstein, who is described as being one of "the Senate's most strident anti-drug crusaders," along with Grassley.

DiFi has long been anti-weed. She actually led the effort against the previous legalization ballot measure in her state (Proposition 19, which failed back in 2010). If, as expected, Californians get another chance to vote on legalizing recreational marijuana this year, it wouldn't surprise us in the least to see "vote no" ads featuring DiFi.

Feinstein is fighting a losing battle. History is moving in the exact opposite direction she is heading, in fact. Feinstein and her Republican buddies want to take America backwards, and return to an era of complete denial of reality. For enthusiastically participating in such a sham hearing, and for refusing to allow any witnesses who might have held a different opinion from her own, Dianne Feinstein is our Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week this week.


FTP [387] 4/15/16

Last week, DiFi won for co-chairing a sham hearing on marijuana, where only the "Lock them all up!" side was allowed to speak. This week, DiFi wins another MDDOTW for co-sponsoring a piece of legislation that would make it mandatory for all information companies to unlock any consumer's data whenever the government wished. This is her response to Apple, a company located within Feinstein's home state. Feinstein, predictably, jumped straight to "The terrorists are going to kill us all!" in defending her proposed bill:

The bill we have drafted would simply provide that, if a court of law issues an order to render technical assistance or provide decrypted data, the company or individual would be required to do so. Today, terrorists and criminals are increasingly using encryption to foil law enforcement efforts, even in the face of a court order. We need strong encryption to protect personal data, but we also need to know when terrorists are plotting to kill Americans.

Remember way back when Dianne Feinstein was shocked that the C.I.A. was spying on members of her own task force? Boy, those were the days. Feinstein is selective in her outrage, saving it only for people she personally knows, apparently. For the rest of us, her motto has long been: "Big Brother loves you!" (or something awfully close to that). This week's bill is in fact the latest in a long line of actions DiFi has taken in strong support of letting the N.S.A. pretty much do whatever it feels like with any data under the sun. Except her employees' data, of course.

Thankfully, at least one Democrat (Ron Wyden of Oregon) has already denounced Feinstein's bill, stating unequivocally: "It makes Americans less safe," and: "If this dangerous anti-encryption legislation reaches the Senate floor, I will filibuster it. Period." In fact, we're going to just go ahead and award Wyden an Honorable Mention this week for doing so, while we hand DiFi her second Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week in a row.


FTP [418] 12/9/16

While California Democrats bid a fond farewell to staunchly-progressive outgoing Senator Barbara Boxer, we will still have to put up with our DINO (Democrat In Name Only) Senator Dianne Feinstein. Think that's too strong? Check out today's editorial from the San Jose Mercury News, which explains how Feinstein is helping Republicans gut environmental protections (the issue is a complicated battle over water from the Northern California delta, endangered species, and Central Valley farmers who want to pump the water no matter the consequences):

[Senator Barbara] Boxer worked two years on a comprehensive, bipartisan water infrastructure bill authorizing a wide range of projects, including $120 million to fix the disastrous water system in Flint, Michigan, and $500 million for crucial California desalination, recycling and water storage projects.

It was expected to sail through Congress until [Senator Dianne] Feinstein joined forces with the Central Valley's powerful Rep. Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, to attach a rider that Boxer aptly describes as a poison pill.

The last-minute, 80-page document negotiated behind closed doors allows maximum pumping of water from the Delta to the Central Valley and eliminates important congressional oversight over building dams in California. It would dramatically roll back Endangered Species Act protections, perhaps paving the way for its repeal or wholesale gutting.

Feinstein argues her rider will stave off worse legislation from a Trump administration. Maybe. But as one of the Senate's most powerful Democrats, she would be well-positioned to filibuster those attempts -- if she wanted to.

Got that? We're going to weaken the E.P.A. so that Trump won't even have to. That's pathetic.

Feinstein, fresh off co-chairing the losing effort to kill marijuana legalization in California, decided to negotiate in secret to give Republicans a free pass to attack the E.P.A. and the Endangered Species Act. Still think "DINO" is hyperbole?

Dianne Feinstein is widely expected not to run for another term when her current stint ends in 2018. We join millions of California Democrats in saying this cannot come soon enough. Perhaps we'll get her retirement announcement in the next few months, in fact.


FTP [451] 9/1/17

And then there's "how not to do it," sadly.

Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has yet to announce whether she will be running for re-election next year. After Barbara Boxer retired in the last election cycle, many would dearly love to see Feinstein step down as well. But so far, she's been cagey about the subject.

Also so far, prominent California Democrats haven't announced they'll take Feinstein on in a primary, preferring to wait for a much-more-winnable open race. That may be about to change, however, after Feinstein gave a disastrous response to a question at the Commonwealth Club recently. Asked about Trump, Feinstein reportedly said:

Look, this man is going to be president most likely for the rest of this term. I just hope he has the ability to learn and to change, and if he does, he can be a good president. And that's my hope.

Feinstein followed this stunning statement up with apologies for Trump because he had only been in office eight months, and a plea for voters to have "some patience" with him. She then doubled down on her pipe dream that Trump will eventually pivot to being presidential: "We'll have to see if he can forget himself and his feelings about himself enough to be able to have the empathy and direction that this country needs." There were reportedly gasps and boos from the audience in response.

Compare that to Biden's words, to see a few things Feinstein might have said instead. One day later, realizing what a political buzzsaw she had stepped into, Feinstein desperately tried to come up with what she should have said in the first place:

The duty of the American president is to bring people together, not cater to one segment of a political base; to solve problems, not campaign constantly. While I'm under no illusion that it's likely to happen and will continue to oppose his policies, I want President Trump to change for the good of the country.

During this tumultuous time, I'm working to protect the progress we've made and find a way to get things done for Californians during a period of total Republican control of Washington. I've been strongly critical of President Trump when I disagree on policy and with his behavior. Most recently, I was appalled by his comments in response to Charlottesville and the pardon of Sheriff Joe Arpaio. President Trump said that there were "very fine people" in a crowd chanting "Jews will not replace us." There's nothing "fine" about white supremacists, Nazis or the KKK.

But Feinstein never should have needed such a do-over in the first place. Do us all a favor, DiFi, use the media attention you've created to gracefully announce your upcoming retirement from politics as you throw the 2018 Senate race wide open. In the meantime, enjoy your fifteenth Most Disappointing Democrat Of The Week award. And please, please realize that Donald Trump is not going to change, because everyone else has already reached that conclusion.


As you can see, I've been hoping for Feinstein's retirement message for quite some time now. Which makes yesterday's disappointment over her throwing her hat in the ring one more time even more acute. Yesterday, I waded through all of this and came to the same conclusion I had reached many years ago: Dianne Feinstein needs to step down and let someone else speak for the citizens of California. Her negatives far outweigh her positives. She disappoints twice as often as she impresses. There are plenty of fine Democrats in California who might take her place in the United States Senate. Unfortunately, they'll all likely have to wait another six years before they get that chance. But I did want to show that this was not some sort of snap judgment, but rather came about through weighing her record as a whole.

Tomorrow, I promise, we'll get back to current political analysis rather than deep wonkery. As The Simpsons once said, you can get away with a "clip show" every once in a while, as long as you don't do it very often. So thanks to those who were interested enough to make it to the end, and we'll return to our normal punditry tomorrow.

-- Chris Weigant


Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant


4 Comments on “Digging Through Feinstein's Record”

  1. [1] 
    altohone wrote:

    delayed response to comments 15, 17 from FTP 455

    Criticism of your pining for the fraudster absolving Geithner is most assuredly justified and far from propaganda... unless you have your head in the sand... which you do.

    Geithner was intimately involved in the decisions to bail out the banksters who engaged in a whole series of frauds that damaged our economy and impoverished tens of millions of Americans.
    His position was to reward the criminals and punish their victims.

    I wish your comments were made out of ignorance, but as I have personally pointed out the details of the frauds and Timmy's role, your position amounts to pure denial.

    As for the criminal organization known as AIG, we have laws on the books that allowed for their seizure.
    A liquidation plan to maintain the legal and viable aspects of the business by selling them to another insurance company could have been accomplished in mere hours.

    Geithner's buddies would have lost out, but the US would have benefited greatly.

    The misinformation campaign to convince the gullible that bailing out the criminals responsible for the Great Recession was necessary was organized and effective.
    But it was all lies.
    And it has allowed the criminals to maintain their control over our economy and politics, made inequality far worse, and gave us Trump to boot.


  2. [2] 
    altohone wrote:

    Hey CW

    Lots to get caught up on, so I'll start with the current column.

    DiFi epitomizes everything that's wrong with the Democratic Party.
    In case you didn't notice the pattern, every single one of her Most Impressive awards amounted to lip service/not actually achieving anything.
    I would argue it's intentional too. Not just to mislead voters by pretending to serve their interests, but actually undermining the efforts for effective responses in order to maintain the status quo or advance the right wing agenda.

    Also, the Most Disappointing awards left out sooooooooooo much.

    If CA reelects her once again...

    I fully expect more from you on this CW.
    More against her (the wars, economics, health care, BDS, etc.), and more for her opponent.

    BTW- There was one blurb in this column about her husband's pile of money. But her votes and actions helped make it much bigger... direct conflicts of interest that fit the dictionary definition of corruption beyond the ethical nightmare around her own pile of cash.


  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    What you don't know about Geithner, bankruptcy and liquidation - not to mention what was actually happening Re. the US and global economy during the period of late 2008/early 2009 - is a lot.

  4. [4] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:


    I had a non-brief comment all set to go based on your desire to see DiFi retire arguing against the sentiment.

    Then I read your two columns on the subject, in their entirety, and concluded that your arguments win the day. They were very persuasive. So much so that the two pieces form a kind of primer which should be read by anyone who wishes to win an argument based on reasoned analysis of the facts.

    In essence, I was reminded, once again, why I love your blog so much!

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