The Corner

Culture

On Senator Feinstein’s Ghastly Hug

Ranking Member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) questions Supreme Court nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett during her confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill, October 14, 2020. (Bonnie Cash/Pool via Reuters)

As the Senate Judiciary Committee wrapped up its hearings for Judge Barrett’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, Senator Dianne Feinstein had some egregiously sharp words for her colleague, Senator Lindsey Graham. Typically, we err on the side of not publishing such profane remarks, but given the circumstances, we think it best to share them with you. Listen for yourself:

Pretty abrasive stuff, huh?

But wait, it gets even worse. As the committee members began to disperse, Senator Feinstein gave Senator Graham . . . a hug.

Thankfully, the folks on the Internet — kind and thoughtful as they are — have been on her case for it. And no, despite some upbraiding about Feinstein’s supposed carelessness amid coronavirus, the main source of their anger seems to be Feinstein’s relative civility. Mark Joseph Stern opined on Twitter:

“If Biden wins, he should offer Dianne Feinstein whatever position is necessary to get her out of the Senate. Ambassador? A cabinet secretary? Some regulatory czar? Literally anything to open up that seat. Feinstein is disastrously, jaw-droppingly bad at this. What a nightmare.”

At Slate, too, Jeremy Stahl writes: “Oh Good, Dianne Feinstein Concluded the Barrett Hearings by Giving a Maskless Lindsey Graham a Hug.

And one last note from Huffington Post reporter Jennifer Bendery, for good measure: “Just asked a Dem senator about Demand Justice’s call for Dianne Feinstein to step down as ranking Dem on the Judiciary Committee after her handling of Barrett’s hearing. ‘It’s very hard to watch a colleague in decline. That this is occurring publicly is even harder.’”

In all seriousness, I’d like to know what, exactly, Stern, Stahl, and this anonymous Democratic senator would’ve liked Feinstein to do. Basic personal decency and collegiality aren’t it, evidently.

Perhaps — and I’m just speculating here — Senator Feinstein made a smart political decision to extend gratitude and respect to the committee’s chairman. Perhaps she remembers how Senators Donnelly, McCaskill, Heitkamp, and Nelson each lost their reelection bids in November 2018 after Senate Democrats launched a vicious smear against Justice Kavanaugh. Perhaps she realized that — again, this is purely speculation — such bitterness and vitriol don’t necessarily play well with voters. And, perhaps she realized that, in the face of the inevitable confirmation of an exceptional judge to the Supreme Court, expressing charity was the strategic and human thing to do.

Unfortunately, rabid partisans often can’t seem to grasp that personal decency isn’t a sign of being “in decline” and just so happens to be good in life and politics.

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