About Dianne Feinstein

Sen. Dianne passed away Friday at her home in Washington, D.C. She was first elected to the U.S. Senate from California in 1992 during a wave election dubbed as “the Year of the Woman” and later became an advocate for gun control. 90 years old was she.

Feinstein’s Senate chief of staff, James Sauls, announced her passing in a statement on Friday morning.

Few women can claim to be a senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mother, or grandmother. In Sauls’ words, “Senator Feinstein was a force of nature who made a tremendous influence on our nation and her home state. “She left a legacy that is exceptional and beyond dispute.

There is a lot to say about who she was and what she accomplished, but for the time being, we are going to mourn the loss of our dear friend, mentor, and boss.

Gavin Newsom, the governor of California, has not yet disclosed his plans for Feinstein’s replacement, choosing instead to concentrate on her legacy.

“She broke down barriers and glass ceilings, but she never lost her belief in the spirit of political cooperation,” Newsom said in a statement. “Every race she won, she made history, but her story was not just about being the first woman in a certain political office, it was about what she did for California and for America with that power once she earned it,” said one observer. She ought to be recognised for that.

The political ascent of Feinstein started on November 27, 1978, when two political assassinations at community Hall shocked her community. She broke the news to a stunned press corps while serving as head of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

Feinstein announced in a steady but visibly shocked voice, “It is my duty to announce that both Mayor [George] Moscone and Supervisor [Harvey] Milk have been shot and died.

After winning the election and a subsequent reelection, Feinstein took over as mayor in an acting capacity until 1988.

Leading San Francisco after tragedy

Willie Brown, a former mayor of San Francisco and a longstanding political supporter of Feinstein’s, claimed that the way she handled the assassinations situation solidified her reputation.

In 2022, Brown remarked that it was “a dramatic demonstration of how, in the face of total and complete disaster, somebody could stand up to right the ship.”

Following the assassinations at city hall, Mayor Feinstein approved a municipal gun control law, infuriating the White Panthers, a radical gun rights group.

The White Panthers successfully gathered enough signatures in 1983 to put Feinstein’s recall on the ballot by working with groups that were dissatisfied with the mayor’s pro-growth, pro-business, and other moderate policies. When the recall attempt was unsuccessful, Feinstein was easily reelected later that year.

As mayor, Feinstein led with a moderate approach and garnered backing from business associations, police unions, and the city’s more conservative residents.

The more liberal activists in San Francisco frequently took exception at her moderate leadership style. She vetoed legislation in 1982 that would have permitted same-sex couples to enter into domestic partnerships and be eligible for things like hospital visiting rights and city benefits.

She also declined to approve legislation giving women equal pay to men who perform identical tasks under the “comparable worth” standard.

Feinstein credited her background as influencing her political views in a 2001 interview with C-SPAN.

“My mother was a Democrat. My father was a Goldwater Republican. So we had a split family,” Feinstein said.

Achieving national standing

San Francisco served as the host city for the DNC in 1984. Feinstein made the short list to be Walter Mondale’s running partner and appeared on the cover of Time magazine.

At that point, the AIDS pandemic had devastated her city. Under President Ronald Reagan, the federal government largely ignored it.

Paul Volberding, a young doctor at San Francisco General Hospital, frequently updated Mayor Feinstein on the disease’s requirements.

Volberding, one of the pioneers in AIDS treatment, reflected on the early epidemic: “I don’t recall any moment when I was told, ‘No, we can’t do that because we don’t have the resources,'”

In fact, San Francisco alone was spending more on AIDS in the middle of the 1980s than the entire federal government. “And that really goes to her leadership and a great credit to her,” Volberding added.

Election to the Senate

After leaving the position of mayor, Feinstein ran for governor in 1990. Pete Wilson, a Republican senator, was her closest opponent.

But a year later, the Senate confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court transformed the political landscape.

Members of the Judiciary Committee, including Democratic Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama, questioned the motives and credibility of Anita Hill when she accused Thomas of sexual misbehaviour while they were coworkers.

“Are you a woman scorned? Do you see the subject of civil rights with a militant attitude? Senator Heflin murmured.

These harshly criticised hearings served as Feinstein’s stepping stone to the U.S. Senate.

Members of the Judiciary Committee, including Democratic Sen. Howell Heflin of Alabama, questioned the motives and credibility of Anita Hill when she accused Thomas of sexual misbehaviour while they were coworkers.

“Are you a woman scorned? Do you see the subject of civil rights with a militant attitude? Senator Heflin murmured.

These harshly criticised hearings served as Feinstein’s stepping stone to the U.S. Senate.

When Feinstein was running for office in 1992, she claimed that “many people took a look at that all-male Judiciary Committee and frankly felt they badly botched the job.” Her programme called for the inclusion of the right to an abortion in federal legislation.

It needs to be approved by the Congress and signed by the president. We must override his veto if he casts one, she continued.

As part of the so-called Year of the Woman, Feinstein won the Senate seat, creating history.

She promoted gun control in Washington, defying the odds to win a federal ban on assault rifles in 1994. Later that year, she nearly missed being re-elected. She gained a reputation, though, as a workhorse who did her homework and wasn’t afraid to upset the apple cart.

Report on torture by the CIA

She used the Senate floor in 2014 to release a thorough report on the CIA’s use of torture after the September 11 attacks, in defiance of the Obama administration.

The publication of this report, according to Feinstein, is a crucial step towards restoring our principles and demonstrating to the outside world that we are, in fact, a just and lawful nation.

Promoter Message

CIA maltreatment of captives, including as waterboarding and sleep deprivation, was disclosed in graphic detail in the 500-page summary report by the Intelligence Committee Feinstein chaired.

The probe Feinstein oversaw, according to Tom Blanton, director of the National Security Archive at George Washington University, held the intelligence community accountable.

According to Blanton, “I believe the Senate torture report was probably the pinnacle of Sen. Feinstein’s entire Senate career.”

Reelection at age 85

After Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Feinstein’s brand of bipartisanship fell out of favour among her own party.

Feinstein ran for and won a second six-year term in 2018 at the age of 85, disappointing and even infuriating Democrats who had thought she would retire to make way for a fresh crop of candidates. Evident memory deficits were mentioned in certain news sources.

Concerns regarding Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s mental health have been raised by a frightening phone conversation.

A nasty case of shingles prompted Feinstein to miss roughly 100 votes during the fifth year of her final term in Congress while she recovered at home in San Francisco.

She was significantly more fragile and had lasting shingles side effects that made it difficult for her to work when she finally made it back to Washington about three months later.

Jim Lazarus, a former aide, feels that she chose to remain in government rather than take a retirement.

She just may not have known what else to do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. She felt healthy, attentive, and powerful enough to perform her duties, according to Lazarus.

A good example for women in politics

Expanding opportunities for women in politics may be Feinstein’s greatest enduring contribution. Although she wasn’t always as much of a feminist as supporters would have liked, she was the first female mayor of San Francisco.

But Malia Cohen, who was elected to the state Board of Equalisation before serving on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, recalls meeting Feinstein at City Hall on a third-grade field trip when Feinstein informed her class that one of them would become mayor one day.

“I think she’s supporting me on her shoulders. And without her leadership, I wouldn’t be here,” Cohen said.

Richard Blum, Feinstein’s third spouse, passed away in 2022. Her daughter Katherine, a former judge who worked on the state superior court in San Francisco, is the only survivor.

Dianne Feinstein will be remembered as a lady who guided her city through a time of profound tragedy and rose to become an effective advocate for crucial national problems in the U.S. Senate, despite the fact that some Democrats believed she was too moderate and in office for too long.

She was replaced, although the specifics are unknown.

In an interview with NBC earlier this month, Governor Newsom reaffirmed his commitment to fill any vacancies in the Senate with a Black woman.

But Newsom also said that until voters could make a decision in the next year, he would not select somebody who was presently campaigning for the position. Representatives Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff, all Democrats, have declared their candidatures. Although Lee is a Black woman, she has outright dismissed claims that she would act as a stand-in.

This article was supported by Kelsey Snell.

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