Senator Dianne Feinstein of California is the Democratic party’s ranking member on the Judiciary Committee. Now that we’re headed into another Senate battle over a Supreme Court justice confirmation, some Democrats worry that she isn’t up to the fight.

Did I mention that Feinstein is 87 years old?

John Bresnahan and Marianne Levine write at Politico:

Democrats worry Feinstein can’t handle Supreme Court battle

As the Senate prepares for yet another brutal Supreme Court nomination fight, one particularly sensitive issue is creating apprehension among Democrats: what to do with 87-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee.

Feinstein, the oldest member of the Senate, is widely respected by senators in both parties, but she has noticeably slowed in recent years. Interviews with more than a dozen Democratic senators and aides show widespread concern over whether the California Democrat is capable of leading the aggressive effort Democrats need against whoever President Donald Trump picks to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

The Judiciary Committee is the critical battleground in the Supreme Court confirmation process. At stake, her own Democratic colleagues worry, is more than just whether the party can thwart Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in his rush to fill the seat. Some Democrats privately fear that Feinstein could mishandle the situation and hurt their chances of winning back the majority.

Feinstein sometimes gets confused by reporters’ questions, or will offer different answers to the same question depending on where or when she’s asked. Her appearance is frail.

So Feinstein appears frail and isn’t as sharp as she used to be? I’m just thinking out loud here, but maybe it has something to do with the fact that she’s 87 years old.

According to the report, some of Feinstein’s colleagues threw her under the bus:

A Democratic senator, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a group of Feinstein’s colleagues want Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) or Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to serve as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel for the upcoming nomination hearings, which are expected to be extraordinarily contentious. This senator is worried that potential missteps by Feinstein could cost Democrats seats.

“She’s not sure what she’s doing,” the Democratic senator said of Feinstein. “If you take a look at Kavanaugh, we may be short two senators because of that. And if this gets [messed] up, it may be the same result.”…

Another Democratic senator said party leaders were “in an impossible position,” pointing out that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y) and other senior Democrats can’t replace a female senator for hearings on an expected female nominee to replace a deceased female Supreme Court justice.

Feinstein actually reacted to this report with surprise.

J.Edward Moreno reported at The Hill:

Feinstein ‘surprised and taken aback’ by suggestion she’s not up for Supreme Court fight

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is rejecting suggestions that she is not prepared to handle an upcoming Supreme Court nomination fight.

Democratic sources told Politico in a story published Wednesday that there is concern that Feinstein, 87, is not capable of leading an aggressive push against the Supreme Court nominee President Trump picks to replace the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

“I’m really surprised and taken aback by this. Because I try to be very careful and I’m puzzled by it,” Feinstein told Politico. “My attendance is good, I do the homework, I try to ask hard questions. I stand up for what I believe in.”

Some people have suggested this is really about other related issues.

Former Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon has a suggestion that even Republicans can get behind.

Excellent idea. The hearing would be much smoother without the Democrats.


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