Saturday, December 09, 2023

Seems Like We Need An Age Limit In The Senate

Dianne Feinstein is 90 years old. She has limited motor function and isn’t much lucid anymore.

Feinstein has been in and out of action in the Senate for most of the past year owing to various maladies, most prominently an alleged case of shingles which put her on the shelf for an extended period of time and bottled up the Senate Democrats’ efforts to get Joe Biden’s judicial appointments out of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They attempted to remove her from that committee and replace her with someone more motile, but that effort failed – Senate rules indicate that committee assignments are to last for the entirety of a congress, and they can only be altered by a 60-vote majority on the floor, which the GOP wouldn’t allow.

And now, Feinstein is on the shelf again

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was hospitalized on Tuesday for tripping and falling in her home, her office announced Wednesday morning.

The 90-year-old lawmaker was taken to the hospital and is now at home. Her staff released a statement about the matter, trying to downplay the incident.

“Senator Feinstein briefly went to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a precaution after a minor fall in her home. All of her scans were clear and she returned home,” the statement proclaimed.

They don’t describe what injuries she may have had, if any.

This is the latest incident involving questions about Feinstein’s health. She suffered from a bad case of shingles as well as other issues and was out for a couple of months from the Senate earlier in the year. But then when she came back there were a lot of questions about her cognitive abilities.

She even appeared confused about the fact that she’d been away from the Senate. She said she “hadn’t been gone,” and that she’d been working.

She again appeared to be confused during a hearing and didn’t seem to understand she was just supposed to say, “Aye” and instead launched into a prepared statement. She had to be told by one of her aides and Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), who were caught helping her on a hot mic, to just say “Aye.”

Feinstein also appeared to be confused about her announcement that she didn’t intend to run again, in February of this year. When she was asked about the statement released from her office on the matter, she said she hadn’t made that decision yet and didn’t seem to know that her people had put out a statement.

But the problems had been there even before her bout with shingles, with people reporting her problems to remember people’s names and recall conversations, and appearing confused since at least last year.

On top of all that, she’s reportedly given her power of attorney to her daughter. Yet she’s still serving in office as a senator, with a lot of help from her staff.

We’re not approaching this from a partisan standpoint, either. As ridiculous as it might be for the frail Dianne Feinstein to continue serving in the Senate, at least she isn’t leading one of the two party caucuses in that body.

Mitch McConnell is, and he isn’t much better off than Feinstein is.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has urged House Republicans to avoid impeaching President Joe Biden.

Speaking to the New York Times in an interview published Tuesday, McConnell said that he does not want to continue the impeachment cycle that Democrats started two years ago when they impeached former President Trump on dubious charges.

“I said two years ago, when we had not one but two impeachments, that once we go down this path it incentivizes the other side to do the same thing,” McConnell said.

“Impeachment ought to be rare,” he added. “This is not good for the country.”

McConnell, you’ll likely remember, is coming off a rather disturbing moment amid a speech he was giving not long ago…

Then a few days ago back in Kentucky, a bipartisan crowd at the Fancy Farm political confab drowned out a semi-unintelligible speech McConnell attempted to give with chants of “Retire!”

Yes, there were a lot of Democrats in that crowd, and there’s some partisan gamesmanship going on – because were McConnell to retire now, the Democrat governor in the Bluegrass State, Andy Beshear, who is the favorite for re-election against Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron in a race which is likely to be quite contentious, would have the power to replace him until a special election could be held.

Interestingly, Kentucky law says a replacement Senator must be of the same party as the incumbent. Beshear has said he wouldn’t abide by that law. So McConnell’s retirement would be messy indeed.

But it’s clear he’s completely out of touch. Anyone paying attention to the drip-drip-drip Watergate-style revelations about the Biden crime family and their bribery and influence-peddling activities surely realizes Biden is the most impeachable president perhaps in American history. McConnell’s reasons given not to impeach are gibberish. Comity on Capitol Hill? Seriously? That went out of style when Biden chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee which ran high-tech lynchings of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas disguised as Supreme Court confirmation hearings.

A younger, more vibrant man would not be attempting to make himself relevant by sandbagging the House GOP majority in such a way. Even if he wasn’t for impeachment he would be attempting to leverage concessions from Democrats on Capitol Hill in return for quiet acknowledgements that no impeachment would happen.

Making them offer up some of the worst cabinet appointees for resignations and firings, for example. At least extract some deliverables from an impeachment effort.

You get this with politicians who are decrepit and lacking in energy. They just take up space. They’re out of ideas, the wisdom of age has melted out of them, they become frail and they simply get in the way.

This isn’t true of everyone who’s advanced in age, of course. Chuck Grassley is 89, and while he sounds like a relic from a bygone era when he speaks, Grassley is nonetheless still very relevant in the Senate; his office has actually done a great deal of work in uncovering evidence of a cover-up to the Biden bribes scandal.

Despite that, though, it’s still quite obvious that beyond a certain age, most political leaders simply don’t have the acuity, stamina, fortitude or verve to effectively discharge their offices.

We do very little to recharge our political leadership in this country. We don’t impose term limits on Congress, for example, and that’s a problem. You wouldn’t need draconian term limits, which probably do more harm than good anyway. Go overboard on term limits and nobody serving will have the institutional understanding to effectively govern. Something like a 20-year limit, meaning that you can run for House or Senate seats all the way up to the point where you’ve served for 20 years and then once you’ve hit that number you’re ineligible to run for another term, would be a nice sweet spot.

But if term limits aren’t doable, surely we can set an age limit. One would think that 80 years of age ought to be a reasonable limit for high federal office.

Because right now, we’re beset with a host of octogenarian politicians who no longer understand the world as it is and can barely stand upright, much less make intelligent, principled decisions on behalf of the American people.

If they refuse to pass the torch, then it needs to be taken away from them. Our sclerotic politics is proof enough of the cost the Feinsteins and McConnells are imposing on us.