Did you know that Senator Dianne Goldman Berman Feinstein is 75 years old? At least that's what Wikipedia says. Only her hairdresser knows for sure. She was born on June 22, 1933. Earlier that year, the Nazis started burning books and the US went off the gold standard.
DiFi (and I absolutely love this moniker for her) has been making news the last couple of days, complaining about no one coming on bended knee to inform her about Panetta, and now opining that Burris should be seated in the Senate.
What are we to make of this septuagenarian's newfound feistiness?
SF Weekly has a good post about the Feinstein-Panetta backstory:
The obvious hot point in the Panetta-Feinstein back story is the 1998 California governor's race. The two were widely viewed as the heavies in the Democratic primary, even though neither ended up running. In one episode from the prelude to the campaign, San Francisco Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi passed over Feinstein, a former San Francisco mayor, to endorse Panetta, then chief of staff in the Clinton White House.
Pelosi later threw her weight behind Feinstein for governor, amid speculation that Panetta had privately indicated she should change course.
The post later quotes a poli-sci prof saying this is typical minor-league intra-state, intra-party squabbling and nothing to get too worked up over. Ironically, Senate protocol dictates that the senators from an appointee's state present him or her to the committee. I believe this holds even if the Senator is from the party opposite of the President that is nominating the person. I don't know how that works when one of the Senators is the committee chair. Perhaps DiFi runs back and forth between her chairman's position and the nominee's table.
As for Burris, there are smart liberals who think he should be seated, so I don't think we should give her too much grief for this position. It's interesting that she's bucking the stance of boo-worthy Reid and yay-worthy Obama, but she is the chair of the Rules Committee, so it's not out of line for her to give an opinion.
But why is she making waves now? Perhaps she's decided that she'll retire when her term is up in 2012, and feels as free as a Haight-Ashbury hippie? Alzheimer's? Old-person Get-off-my-lawn McCainism?
Here's my theory-it was all an accident. She accidentally got on the freeway of modern politics, and she hasn't figured out how to safely move over to the exit lane without getting hit by a semi.
The ol' gal is 75 years-old folks. Three years older than McCain. They are both part of the "Silent Generation." From a NY Times article in April:
Young people born in the 1930s experienced no such tumult. They typically came of age in the 1950s, when consensus reigned, and with it conformism. Young Americans were collectively disengaged from politics and distrustful of ideology. They were the "silent generation," content to be guided by their elders: Eisenhower, the avuncular white-haired president who had been the hero of World War II, and the Wise Men who formulated the strategies of the cold war.
Given the generation she was born in, and her own bland political history, I think it's safe to assume that she's not going to stay on the front-page for very long. I say we let her get off the main express and let her her rule her little Senate world without getting in our way.