Sen. Diane Feinstein is back in Washington D.C. — sort of — after an extended bout with what her aides claimed was shingles. To hear her tell it, however, she may have never left.
The 89-year-old appeared unwell and confused at times as she was wheeled into the Senate last week. A recent interview with leftist outlets including the Los Angeles Times and Slate did little to clear up concerns over the senator’s health and state of mind.
On Tuesday afternoon, Slate’s Jim Newell asked Feinstein how she was feeling. She responded that she was fine, just had “a problem with the leg.” When another reporter asked about the nature of the illness, the Democrat retorted that it’s “nothing that’s anyone’s concern but mine.”
Asked about her May 10 return, Feinstein suddenly appeared more confused. To the startled assembly of journalists, she declared that “I haven’t been gone. You should…I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”
This is not even funny.
Dianne Feinstein claimed she hasn't 'been gone' when asked about her lengthy absence from the Senate: 'No, I've been here. I've been voting'https://t.co/tMcYJutfZg
— Tired of being politically correct (@USBornNRaised) May 16, 2023
Likely in a generous spirit, another reporter followed up with a question specifically to give her a way out of the misstatement. “You’ve been working from home is what you’re saying?”
Now annoyed, Feinstein replied, “No, I’ve been here. I’ve been voting. Please, you either know or don’t know.”
It was at that point when her entourage found it necessary to wheel the senator away.
Feinstein has been a fixture in the upper chamber since 1992, but her cognitive decline is lost on few observers. It is hardly disrespectful to ask if a powerful member of Congress — or the president — has the mental acuity to hold such a prominent position.
The senator was diagnosed with shingles on Feb. 26 and then hospitalized until March 6. In a statement, her office said she was still dealing with “temporary side effects” from the painful virus that included vision and balance issues.
But many surrounding Feinstein, who has announced she will step aside in 2024, have noted her mental decline.
In a telling interview with the San Francisco Chronicle in April 2022, an unnamed congressional colleague from California laid bare the cognitive issues faced by the 89-year-old.
They noted that they’ve worked with Feinstein for a long period and described her as an “intellectual and political force.” They said just a few years ago she was “always in command, always in charge, on top of the details.”
They concluded, however, that “all of that is gone.”
The liberal Huffington Post reported that when Feinstein was placed in her wheelchair outside the Senate for her triumphant return last week, she asked, “Where am I going?”