No, It Is Not “Sexist” To Argue That Senator Feinstein Should Resign

The New York Times editorial board has issued an editorial calling on Senator Diane Feinstein to step down. It is an entirely partisan appeal, but that’s the Times: the editors are worried that her continued absence from active participation and impairment due to advanced age (she’s 89, and obviously declining in health and cognitive acuity) will threaten the progressive agenda. Their position that Feinstein needs to be responsible and retire is no less valid, however. It was irresponsible for her to run for reelection in 2018, and irresponsible for California voters to elect her. Now the aged Senator is unable to vote or attend committee meetings because of her declining health, and there is no indication when that situation will improve.

So of course she should step down. But Democrats gotta Democrat, so Rep. Nancy Pelosi, herself 83 and another abuser of the public official’s duty not to continue in office past her pull-date, has accused the Times and others of “sexism.” You know the formula by now: if anyone criticizes what a Democratic woman does, it’s sexism, just as when anyone criticizes what a black Democrat does, it’s racism. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton showed that the tactic works, and now it is SOP. “‘I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way,’ Pelosi said regarding the calls for Feinstein’s resignation.

Sadly, the supposedly rational and independent law prof-blogger Ann Althouse (who had the sense to retire from teaching before she started spiraling into incompetence) has sided with the ex-Speaker. “But isn’t Pelosi right?,” she wrote yesterday. “Something has been done badly by men for a long, long time, and suddenly it just has to stop… because a woman is doing it?”

Ugh. No, Pelosi is NOT right, and Ann’s ethical reasoning is depressing. That’s as pure an “Everybody does it” rationalization as you are ever going to see. Male Senators were foolishly allowed to continue in office when they were incapacitated (Senator Carter Glass of Virginia, absent for four years with heart problems and Senator Karl Mundt of South Dakota, unable to do his job for three years after a stroke) or outrageously old (Strom Thurmond, who served into his 100th year and had probably been senile for years), so Ann concludes that the ethical approach now is for Senators to keep on being irresponsible because that’s the way it’s always been done, even though the practice impedes the operation of the government?

Ridiculous. Glass served in the 1940s; Mundt in the Sixties, and Thurmond has been dead for 20 years. There is no evidence that those Senators received special deference because they were men: there were no female Senators 80 years ago, and only one 60 years ago. The Times writes, “This Senate tradition should have been discarded long ago. Senate seats are not lifetime sinecures, and if members can’t effectively represent their constituents or work for the benefit of their country, they should not hesitate to turn the job over to someone who can.” Bingo! But Pelosi and Althouse still argue that the practice of letting Senators serve until they drop—literally—should continue, because in this case doing the right thing would interfere with a female Senator’s unethical sense of entitlement.

Ann should recognize, as Pelosi must and the Times editors point out, that the political environment is very different today than in the eras of Glass, Mundt and Thurmond. The Democratic majority in the Senate is paper-edge thin: the party and its constituencies need all hands on the metaphorical deck. That was not the case in the three previous cases. There was also a more recent case of a Democratic female member of Congress being provided the same sentimental but irresponsible deference as Glass, Mundt and Thurmond: Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, who stayed in office for a full year, January 2011 to January 2012, after she was shot in the head and rendered permanently brain damaged.

The exhortations to Feinstein to be professional, responsible and selfless have nothing to do with gender, and it is unethical to confuse the issue by crying “Sexism!” Retiring is the ethical course for her now, and would have been the ethical course for the incapacitated Senators of years past.

11 thoughts on “No, It Is Not “Sexist” To Argue That Senator Feinstein Should Resign

  1. Good grief! Does she ever look like an age-progressed Lucy Van Pelt or what.

    I have to say I’m surprised Crazy Nan hasn’t pushed Diane off the stage by cutting off her funds. But maybe Diane doesn’t need Crazy Nan’s money anymore. I forget, is Nan going to run again in 2024? Maybe pushing Diane out would be tantamount to signing Nan’s own walking papers. Egos.

  2. No one questions a man’s fitness to serve in the Senate? Has Nancy never heard of John Fetterman? Or does that not count since it was only those mean Republicans saying it?

  3. If only someone of recognized gravitas would toss in the label of white privilege, purely for amusement as mental gymnastics of denial ensue.

  4. “‘I’ve never seen them go after a man who was sick in the Senate in that way,’ Pelosi said

    Said the woman who wanted Trump involuntarily pulled for this very purported reason.

  5. I have nothing really to say about this, so I will just beat an old drum of mine:

    It is very unlikely we would be in this situation if the 17th Amendment had not been ratified.


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