Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has signaled in recent days that she doesn't know where she is going and doesn't know where she's been. Unable to ignore or conceal the 89-year-old's mental deterioration any longer, her handlers have finally admitted that the California Democrat's alleged case of shingles had a more profound impact on her body and mind than previously indicated.
The senior Democrat was first allegedly diagnosed with shingles on February 26, then hospitalized until March 6. She has been in recovery ever since.
A statement attributed to Feinstein last week — concerning her return to Washington that she does not appear to remember — indicated she was "still experiencing temporary side effects from the virus including vision and balance impairments."
That was evidently not the whole story.
Feinstein's office revealed Thursday that she is suffering from Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a complication from the virus, reported the Associated Press.
According to the Mayo Clinic, Ramsay Hunt syndrome can result in hearing loss, eye problems, vertigo, and facial paralysis.
While the syndrome alone might prove to be a stumbling block for anyone in such a consequential position, a spokesman for Feinstein indicated the California Democrat's problems have affected far more than just her face and balance.
Adam Russell revealed Feinstein suffered encephalitis well into March.
Encephalitis is inflammation of the brain. Sufferers reportedly experience flu-like symptoms, usually followed by more severe symptoms such as confusion, hallucinations, seizures, problems with speech, and loss of consciousness.
While Russell claimed Feinstein's brain inflammation "resolved itself shortly after she was released from the hospital," the Mayo Clinic notes that complications, such as those now admitted by Feinstein's team on her behalf, can "last for months or be permanent."
Memory problems and personality changes are among the decision-impacting complications that could persist indefinitely.
Dr. Adrien Mirouse, a physician and immunologist based at Sorbonne University in Paris who has studied post-shingles encephalitis patients extensively, told the New York Times, "You may have some symptoms that last after the encephalitis. ... It’s not sure you will be able to recover completely. That’s true at 89, it’s also true at 30 or 20."
The Times noted that the inflammation "alone can damage cells in the brain," possibly impairing judgment and contributing to cognitive decline, which may account for why she is "now struggling to function in a job that demands long days, near-constant engagement on an array of crucial policy issues and high-stakes decision-making."
The revelation that there is far more hindering her than stairs has excited concerns about her competence in her present capacity as a U.S. senator.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) told reporters outside the Capitol Thursday, "If you think [Feinstein] ought to resign ... then by God, go to Amazon and buy a spine online and say it publicly."
Leftist MSNBC host Mehdi Hasan tweeted, "The people around her should be ashamed, and Schumer and Durbin should be pressuring her today to resign/retire."
Twitter commentator and former Democratic campaigner Yashar Ali wrote, "Having her serve in her state is elder abuse...it's cruel."
One of Feinstein's colleagues told the Times that her current state is "frightening," marking a tragic end to a six-term stint in the Senate.
Earlier this month, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) claimed Feinstein's "refusal to either retire or show up is causing great harm to the judiciary," calling for her to retire.
TheBlaze previously reported that in April, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) tweeted, "It's time for @SenFeinstein to resign. We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people."
Democratic Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota concurred with Khanna, calling it a "dereliction of duty" for Feinstein to remain in the Senate.
While junior leftists and media personalities have knives out for the aged Democrat, even her allies are now turning on her.
Susie Tompkins Buell, a major Democratic donor and longtime Feinstein ally, told the Times, "The Senate has critical, challenging work to do, and as the stakes are so high and she is not able to be present, to be informed and active, let alone have the rest she needs in order to recover, I feel she needs to step down. And yet she isn’t willing in this state of mind."
Newsweek reported that there remains a handful of Democrats aware of Feinstein's sporadic mental absences, but desperate for her continued bodily presence as a means to continue advancing their agenda.
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.) said, "Democrats don't get in the way of conversations between patients and their doctors. ... Feinstein came back last week and she voted, and that was very good."
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said last week that with Feinstein back, "Anything we do in the Senate that requires a majority is now within reach."
Time magazine warned its Democratic readership that in the event of Feinstein's premature retirement, "there is nothing ensuring that [her] successor could be the 11th vote on Judiciary. ... That means 10 Republicans would have to allow Democrats to either send Feinstein's replacement or another lawmaker into that role. There is scant evidence that Republicans would accede to that request."
Time also suggested that there is a "cynical, craven dark" argument, which it was happy to advance, for keeping the addled geriatric on the Senate committee just in case there is an opening on the Supreme Court and Democrats want to rush a nominee through before 2025.
Audio was recently released of an exchange that showcased the confusion and memory loss suffered by the senator Time magazine reckons Democrats should keep wheeling in.
On Tuesday, reporters asked Feinstein about the well-wishes she received from her Senate colleagues.
"What have I heard about about what?" asked Feinstein, evidently confused.
"About your return," responded the reporter.
"I haven't been gone," said Feinstein. "You should ... I haven't been gone. I've been working."
Ostensibly giving her an out, one reporter asked, "You've been working from home is what you're saying?"
"No, I've been here," said Feinstein, becoming agitated. "I've been voting. Please, you either know or don't know."
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