Editorial: The reproachment of Dianne Feinstein

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein asks questions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Facebook and Twitter's actions around the presidential election. Feinstein gave up her position last week as the top Democrat on the panel.

    Sen. Dianne Feinstein asks questions during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Facebook and Twitter's actions around the presidential election. Feinstein gave up her position last week as the top Democrat on the panel. Associated Press Photo

 
Posted11/28/2020 2:00 PM

Amid all the understandable buzz about whether President Donald Trump would concede the election to Joe Biden, the country paid more attention to the apparent hair color oozing down Rudy Giuliani's cheek than to the more substantive news of Sen. Dianne Feinstein's decision to relinquish her role as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

There are a couple of reasons we take note of the California Democrat's acquiescence to progressive pressure to give up her lead position on the powerful committee.

 

Most obvious for those of us in Illinois is that Dick Durbin of Springfield is in line as the senator most likely to replace her in that leadership role. That would expand Durbin's influence in setting the Democratic agenda on issues that come before the judiciary committee -- and possibly could even elevate him to chair that high-profile panel if Democrats somehow pull off wins in the two Senate runoff elections in Georgia on Jan. 5.

Of course, Durbin's elevation is by no means certain. While he's the next ranking member of the committee and popular within the Democratic caucus, he shares the same characteristic that brought Feinstein low: He can be reasonable.

And if Feinstein's loss of stature illustrates anything, it's that some progressives seem to equate reasonableness with weakness.

Her sin? She wasn't seen as aggressive enough in pushing the case against Amy Coney Barrett and in fact, had the effrontery to congratulate Republican committee chair Lindsey Graham in how he handled Barrett's Supreme Court confirmation hearing.

Don't get us wrong. We're not trying to argue that Feinstein's performance in the hearing was exemplary or that we agree with the pat on the back for Graham.

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But the intolerance of her attempt at being collegial strikes us as what is wrong with Washington and with today's politics.

The primary message the nation has sent in electing Biden is that it's time for our elected public servants to start getting along.

Politicians don't have to agree about everything in order to find common ground. They just need to agree to work together.

But the atmosphere in our politics these days does not for the most part reward collaboration.

If a Republican disagrees with Trump, a difficult primary could be the result. And if a Democrat tries to collaborate, well, we see what just happened to Feinstein.

The fact of the matter is, it's hard in either party these days to survive without passing ideological purity tests.

That's too bad. The test really ought to be one of common sense. And common decency.

We believe that President-elect Biden is sincere in his wish to work with both sides of the aisle. The question is, will both sides of the aisle work with him?

He's got his work cut out for him.

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