Sunday, September 23, 2007

Greenwald On Dianne Feinstein

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.

She represents one of the most liberal states in the country. She's been elected by substantial margins. Yet Senator Dianne Feinstein votes like a Republican. This habit earned her a share of Friday's "Roll Over and Beg" award. As Glenn Greenwald points out from behind the curtain at Salon:

[Feinstein] symbolizes a major imbalance in the Washington political system. The right-wing Republicans in Congress have an affinity with their base and share the same basic values. One saw that quite vividly in the recent immigration debate, where most Congressional Republicans -- particularly the "conservative" ones -- embraced rather than ran away from their angry, impassioned base by blocking enactment of the immigration bill which the GOP establishment favored but which the right-wing base hated.


By very stark contrast, most (though certainly not all) Democrats in Congress -- particularly the most influential and longest-serving ones in the Senate like Feinstein -- have contempt for their base and share virtually none of their values. In March of last year, I had an e-mail exchange with the spokesperson for a key Democratic Senator on the Intelligence Committee regarding how bloggers and their readers could work more closely with Democratic Senators to highlight the need for the NSA lawbreaking scandal to be investigated and taken more seriously. Ultimately, they made clear that they wanted nothing to do with actual citizens who were eager to bring that situation about, as I was told:

I think there is an opportunity for us to figure out a better way to work together. But, you have to understand, my ultimate goal is to help [the] Senator [] achieve his objective of real oversight on national security matters by the Intelligence Committee.

Even with the best of intentions, I'm not convinced that bloggers can help us meet that goal. In fact, I worry about it hurting our efforts given the increasingly partisan environment.

As Digby said yesterday of Senate Democrats: "it surely seems true that they loathe the Democratic base as much as the Republicans do."
Dianne Feinstein -- Symbol of the Worthless Beltway Democrat

[emphasis from original article]

I've suspected this for some time, but really didn't understand just how deep the sense of entitlement and disrespect for their constituents goes in some of our representatives in Washington. Some days I think they even resent some of the thoughtful, mild mannered criticism and discussion they receive from the folks who voted for them.

As Greenwald points out, Feinstein has none of the usual political motivations for voting the way she does. She represents California, one of the most liberal states in the country. She has a very secure position in Congress, and probably can't hope to run for President for various reasons. Thus, she has the freedom to vote pretty much as she wants. Yet she consistently votes against the wishes of her constituents.

Cases like Feinstein's were one of the inspirations for "The Price of Freedom". I have a hard time believing that if Californians knew how their Senator consistently voted against their wishes and interests that they would continue to send her there. Yet they do, probably assuming that since she's a Democrat she'll vote their way more often than not. Being uninformed about how your representatives vote is tantamount to allowing people like Feinstein to continue to screw things up in DC. As Greenwald observes:

Plainly, Feinstein does not do this out of political fear or "spinelessness," but because it is who she now is and what she believes. She and those like her are the reason why there is such a gaping disconnect between the Beltway political class and the political views of most Americans.

Dianne Feinstein -- Symbol of the Worthless Beltway Democrat

It's not the party affiliation that's important, it's the person. If you don't believe that, I suggest you wake up and smell the coffee.

UPDATE (July 9, 2008): Fixed the links to Glenn Greenwald's article. Finally.


Anonymous said...

Like Lieberman (was), DiFi is a Democrat Of Convenience, because she knows a D after her name will get her elected. If CA went red, she would become a Republican immediately... and breathe a sigh of relief.

It still boggles my mind that no-one seems to notice that she's not actually a D at all.

Anonymous said...

I often think back to 1978, when I was living in California, and how I watched her take control during the crisis days following Moscone's and Milk's murders. She was such a leader then. I really believed she had the people's best interests at heart. High hopes.

Those days are long over. As Eli said, she'd would switch colors in a nanosecond, if she thought it would benefit her to do so.

Cujo359 said...

It would boggle my mind, Eli, if I hadn't encountered so many people who either don't pay attention to politics, don't care, or don't even vote. All those folks who are having "buyers remorse" over Lieberman right now have no one but themselves to blame. He'd been lying to them for years, and the press caught him at it, but there was a substantial portion who just didn't know better until they watched what he did after they returned him to DC.

There are days, shoephone, when I still think Feinstein has the ability to be a leader. Unfortunately, she seems to have lost her conscience somewhere along the way. Leaders like that aren't the kind I want running my government, so I suppose it's a good thing she's not running for President.

alcatholic said...

Is it as simple as enough moderate Republican voters like her that it doesn't matter if some Dems don't?

I figure repub voters want representation, too, and are more than happy with Dianne. I'm not sure that complete disclosure would harm Dianne anywhere but in the Dem primary.

Cujo359 said...

Yes, I'd suppose she does appeal to some right-of-center folks, and that's part of the reason she's where she is. Nevertheless, as you pointed out at Taylor's site, she carried more than sixty percent of the vote,. In California that means that quite a few Democrats must have voted for her, as well.

She also hasn't been challenged in either of her re-election primaries, and I don't remember even a whisper of a possible candidate in either one.