Dianne Feinstein — Symbol of the Worthless Beltway Democrat

Today from Salon.com

Glenn Greenwald
Sunday September 23, 2007 06:21 EST

Dianne Feinstein — Symbol of the Worthless Beltway Democrat

In the wake of the series of profound failures that define the 2007 Democratic Congress, there is much debate over what accounts for this behavior. There are almost 300 “Congressional Democrats” and they are not a monolithic group. Some of them are unrelenting defenders of their core liberal political values and some are committed to providing meaningful opposition to the radicalism and corruption of the Bush administration. But as the sorry record of the 2007 Congress conclusively proves, they are easily outnumbered in the House and Senate — especially the Senate — by Bush-enabling and Bush-supporting Democrats.

The standard excuse offered by many apologists for Bush-enabling Democrats — that they support the Bush agenda and capitulate to the right-wing noise machine due to political fear of being depicted as too liberal or “soft on terror” — is clearly inapplicable to many, if not most, of the enablers. California’s Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein provides a perfect case study for understanding why the Congress has done virtually nothing to oppose the most extreme Bush policies, while doing much actively to support it.

Feinstein represents a deep blue state and was just easily re-elected to her third term last year. She won’t run for re-election, if she ever does, until 2012, when she will be 80 years old. Her state easily re-elected a Senator, Barbara Boxer, with a much more liberal voting record than Feinstein’s. Political fear cannot possibly explain her loyal support for the Bush agenda on the most critical issues decided by the Senate.

Additionally, Feinstein is a 74-year-old divorced Jewish woman currently on her third husband, and it is thus extremely unlikely that she harbors any hopes of running in the future on a national ticket. She has as secure a political position as any politician in the country. Whatever explains what she does, it has nothing to do with “spinelessness” or fear. What would she possibly fear?

And yet, her votes over the last several years, and especially this year after she was safely re-elected, are infinitely closer to the Bush White House and her right-wing Senate colleagues than they are to the base of her party or to the constituents she allegedly represents. Just look at what she has done this year on the most critical and revealing votes:

* Voted in FAVOR of funding the Iraq War without conditions; 

* Voted in FAVOR of the Bush White House’s FISA bill to drastically expand warrantless eavesdropping powers;

* Voted in FAVOR of condemning MoveOn.org;

* Cast the deciding vote in August on the Senate Judiciary Committee in FAVOR of the nomination of far right Bush nominee Leslie Southwick to the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.

In 2006, Feinstein not only voted in favor of extending the Patriot Act without any of the critical safeguards sought by Sen. Feingold, among others, but she was one of the most outspoken Democratic proponents arguing for its extension (“I have never been in favor of allowing any provisions of the Patriot Act to expire.”). Also in 2006, she not only voted in favor of amending the Constitution to outlaw flag burning, but was, as she proudly described herself, “the main Democratic sponsor of this amendment.”

There’s more… Read the Complete Article

  5 comments for “Dianne Feinstein — Symbol of the Worthless Beltway Democrat

  1. Northcountystorm
    September 24, 2007 at 12:16 am

    Chris— I thought Rudy Giuliani was the only New York gas bag I’d have to read about on this blog. Now you’ve dropped Greenwald’s psilocybin-induced rant on our senior Senator.

    You might have deleted your salon e-mail when you got to Greenwald’s incredibly sexist description of Feinstein as ” a divorced Jewish woman currently on her 3rd husband” where Greenwald then concludes its unlikely shes harboring any hopes of running for national office. Excuse me? Speaking of that other New York gas bag—Giuliani— he’s on number 3 wife and where is he in the GOP polls? And she’s disqualified because she’s Jewish? And you’re posting this crap?

    Feinstien— 100% NARAL & Planned Parenthood, 100%NOW, 100% League of Conservation Voters, 100% National Education Association, 100% for Americans United for Separation of Church and State(for you secularists), 100% ACORN, 100% Partnership for the Homeless, 100% AFL-CIO, 0% NRA, 0% English USA, 0% American Conservative Union, etc..

    And on Iraq, she regrets her vote to authorize the war, contrary to what Greenwald blathered, she voted for the Levin amendment to provide the basis for an orderly withdrawl from Iraq and for the Feingold amendment to safely redeploy the troops. On the Iraq vote that Greenwald cited, 39 of the 49 Democrats voted that way–many from states bluer then California and yet its Feinstein who becomes the boogywoman. And this canard that somehow because she is from California she needs to check in with moveon.org or some similar group because California is so blue. This state is more purple then blue and we’d better hope Arnold does not run against Boxer next time because that will not be an easy race.

    Feinstein votes with Democrats 94% of the time and Barbara Boxer ,supposedly far more liberal according to Greenwold, is only 1% higher. Feinstein votes with her Democratic colleagues more then Ted Kennedy, John Kerry and Russ Feingold.

    But you’d never know any of that reading greenwald’s rag. I don’t mind him taking a shot at her on Iraq or the Patriot Act –heck, I don’t like all of her votes either–but to denigrate and misrepresent her record may be par for the New York media–I’m just surprised it slipped in on this blog.

    Feinstein isn’t always a lock step left-liberal vote–which is precisely why people like Greewald don’t like her. Its one of the reasons that she has such high approval ratings. Just because she is from California does not mean she has to forfeit her independence and her ability to do what is best for her constituents. The real slaves to the beltway are politicians who cower at the extremes of both sides whose beltway lobbyists denigrate them if they deviate from the pure ideological line.

  2. September 24, 2007 at 12:39 am

    Actually NCS,

    Since there are many liberals who hold Greenwalds perception of Senator Feinstein, I found it important that the topic be taken up here. I appreciate your rising to her defense and clarifying her record.

    Had this commentary by Greenwald not “slipped in on this blog” your clarifications would not be as widely known. I would rather we openly discuss disagreement with our Democratic legislators than follow the Republican model of ignoring the warts of our electeds. Better we get it out of our system in these forums than in the voting booth with only half the story.

  3. Northcountystorm
    September 24, 2007 at 8:22 am

    Chris—Fair enough. I’ll warn Lou to put on his kevlar.

  4. September 24, 2007 at 10:17 am

    Actually, I was thinking the same thing ;).

    The reasoning that I have used when I have previously challenged, some might say attacked, Senator Correa for his positions is the same here. If we don’t clear it up we could end up making even bigger mistakes. While disagree with both Senators on a number of issues, I still find them to be better than their Republican alternatives. Even if some times the differences are small.

  5. Andrew Davey
    September 24, 2007 at 10:51 am


    You made some good points here. Yes, Feinstein is no Republican. Yes, Glenn Greenwald was being a little too a**holey for me in this article. And yes, I’d prefer her over any Reep any time.


    You also made some good points. Yes, Feinstein does frustrate me often. Yes, she can be overly “cautiously moderate” at times. And yes, I do prefer my Senators with more backbone (a la Boxer).

    So I guess I’ll have to fall somewhere in the middle here. While I do prefer DiFi over any Reep, I would also prefer that she grow more more spine in advocating the progressive values that I hope she believes in. And while I would vote for her over any Reep in 2012 should she run for another term, I am kinda hoping that we have an opportunity to support someone with new ideas and a new perspective in doing what’s right for California.

    There, is that “somewhere in the middle” or what?! 😉

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