Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) was wheeled back into the Senate last week without having fully recovered from what her handlers claim was a bad case of shingles. Although she appeared confused, weary, and sickly, Democrats were nevertheless happy to have her back to vote forward their agenda.
A recent exchange between the 89-year-old senator and reporters, detailed by liberal publications Slate and the Los Angeles Times, revealed that while the California Democrat may be counted present for consequential votes in body, she may not be fully present in mind.
Despite Feinstein's doctor-prescribed "lighter schedule," the senator made time Tuesday afternoon to briefly answer questions posed to her by Slate's Jim Newell and others.
Feinstein was freshly back from being carted over to vote against a Republican bill, which successfully blocked a radical District of Columbia policing law.
Newell asked how she was feeling, and Feinstein responded from her wheelchair, "Oh, I'm feeling fine. I have a problem with the leg."
Responding to a follow-up question from another reporter concerning the nature of the problem, the senator added, "Well, nothing that's anyone concern but mine."
One reporter broached the subject of her May 10 return, asking 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."
Feinstein's handlers promptly wheeled her away following this disquieting exchange.
TheBlaze previously reported that the senior Democrat was first allegedly diagnosed with shingles on February 26, then hospitalized until March 6. She has reportedly been in recovery ever since.
A statement attributed to Feinstein — 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."
The statement made no mention of the senator's well-documented cognitive decline.
An unnamed Californian member of Congress told the San Francisco Chronicle in April 2022, "I have worked with her for a long time and long enough to know what she was like just a few years ago: always in command, always in charge, on top of the details, basically couldn’t resist a conversation where she was driving some bill or some idea. All of that is gone."
The concerned lawmaker added, "She was an intellectual and political force not that long ago, and that’s why my encounter with her was so jarring. Because there was just no trace of that."
It is not only the fact of her past absence that appears to have confounded Feinstein, but her presence as well.
The Huffington Post reported that when Feinstein was first placed in a wheelchair outside the Senate last week, she asked, "Where am I going?"
While Feinstein may have trouble remembering why she is in the Senate, Democrats — who control only 51 of the 100 seats in the Senate and have a one-person advantage on the Senate Judiciary Committee — are sure to provide her with a reminder when the next vote comes up.