Her statement is controversial among other Democrats and probably heretical in her hometown of San Francisco. Senator Dianne Feinstein has created havoc by refusing to back the impeachment of President Trump and calling for “patience” with his presidency.
Feinstein, 84-years-old, has built her career on moderation with pragmatism. But as she contemplates whether to seek a sixth term in office, she must deal with shifting demographics and political biases in her state. She has potential rivals circling.
Kevin De León criticized Feinstein’s remarks just a few hours after she made them on Tuesday. He said that women, children, people of color, immigrants and members of the LGBTQ community had little time for patience because of the president’s policies.
“It wasn’t the proper tone or tenor, especially given the current state of politics at the national level,” De León said, who is considering a Senate run. “We don’t owe Trump patience. We owe Californians resistance.”
Sean Clegg, a veteran Democratic operative in San Francisco, said, “It’s Dianne being Dianne, but it’s greatly out of step with where the base is, where most Democrats are, and where most California voters are,” he said. “The base is on fire like we really have not seen in more than a generation.”
Democrats in California have set themselves up as the liberal resistance to Trump. The state is home to some of the president’s most vocal critics: Both Maxine Waters and Brad Sherman introduced articles of impeachment on the House floor in July. They accused the president of obstructing justice.
Feinstein not only called for patience with Trump but said that she thinks he could become a good president if he learned and changed. Many in her constituency saw this as evidence that Feinstein has become out of touch with her base.
“No politician is entitled to their office, and what’s needed now more than ever are independent progressive leaders who will be champions for the working Californians hurt by the hateful, divisive policies of the Trump presidency,” said Joe Sanberg, a wealthy Westwood investor who has addressed poverty in the state.
Longtime friend and moderator of the event where Feinstein made the remarks, Rep. Ellen Tauscher, said, “She was Dianne. She’s measured. She’s serious. That’s why she has so much respect, such gravitas, such seniority that she can leverage on our behalf.”
Feinstein defended her approach to politics after facing tough questions and even boos at two town halls in April. “Resistance to me means doing the best I can to serve people in the way we do,” Feinstein said. “I’m giving opposition in my votes, in my comments, in my speeches. Now, I don’t rant and rail because I’ve got other ways of being constructive, and I think the majority of people want me to be constructive.”
The senator’s supporters warn that a Democratic challenge would be a huge mistake. Feinstein has a vast network of donors and is one of the wealthiest members of Congress. She can self-fund a campaign.
“It would be foolish, but it would also be a waste of precious resources in a year we need to take back the House, to take the Senate, or do both,” said Katherine Spillar, executive director of the Feminist Majority Foundation in Beverly Hills. Spiller also noted that the opposition to Feinstein is rooted in both ageism and sexism. Spilled continued, “Stop it already. She’s absolutely just been an incredible force and we can’t lose her, not now. Oh my God. This is not the time.”
What do you think about Feinstein’s approach? Should she stay or should she go?
Credit: LA Times