IIt was a hug that would have shocked many, even in a year of no social distancing: Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, ended a controversial week of Supreme Court confirmation hearings with a full body hug from Lindsay Graham, the Republican Chairman of the committee.
The act, and her remarks on the hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett ̵
“There were a number of us in San Francisco who for a long time felt that, without taking away from what we had accomplished, we reached a point where we were no longer in contact with San Francisco and California. Said David Campos, leader of the San Francisco Democratic Party. He did not speak on behalf of the organization.
“It represents the past of San Francisco and California,” Campos continued. “It is not surprising that at a time when we are facing a crisis and a right-wing supremacist stands before the Supreme Court, she is not up to the task. And it’s not her age. It’s just who she is. “
Feinstein became mayor of San Francisco in 1978 after activist Harvey Milk and Mayor George Moscone were murdered, and it put city politics back on the spot. Though her legacy in the city is steeped in respect given her long history of civil service, her penchant for politeness and the no-rocking feeling feels out of place in today’s politics, her critics say.
In 2018, the California Democratic Party voted to support Feinstein’s opponents in the US Senate race. The four-year incumbent – Feinstein has been in the Senate since 1992 – only won 7% of the vote.
Recent efforts to rename public schools that honor historical figures with racist or colonial legacies include an elementary school named after her. The School Name Advisory Board noted that when Feinstein was mayor of San Francisco in 1986, he not only allowed a Confederate flag to fly outside City Hall, but also urged the prosecution of the black activist who removed it in protest.
And few forgot when a group of young climate activists hired Feinstein in San Francisco and she told them, “You didn’t vote for me.”
Progressives now say Feinstein failed her leadership role as the top Democrat on the Justice Committee, in what this week Barrett, a staunch Conservative, interviewed.
“It’s not like Dianne Feinstein and I have a lot in common,” said local lawmaker Hillary Ronen. “She is a very moderate democrat and I am a very progressive democrat. I expect we will disagree most of the time, but I have a feeling that she betrayed many of us in this statement and thanked Graham for his fairness. It was absolutely nothing fair. Dealing with this democratic process has been a farce and the least fair thing we have seen. “
Ronen said she was “down and down” to hear Feinstein’s remarks after the confirmation hearings.
“When people ask, ‘Why are you surprised? She’s basically a Republican. “Well, I never expected her to betray us to that extent in all the times she represents our state,” said Ronen. “I don’t know if she fully understands what that statement says to us, her constituents, who are about to drain decades of civil rights gains because the Republican Party and Mitch McConnell started a sham trial.”
On Thursday, several national progressive groups called on Feinstein to step down as top Democrat on the judiciary committee.
Brian Fallon, executive director of Demand Justice, argued that Feinstein undercut the Democratic position during the hearings. Naral Pro-Choice America, a leading group on reproductive rights, called Feinstein “wildly out of step with the American people” and said the “committee needs new leadership.”
California Democratic Congresswoman Katie Porter also criticized Feinstein, telling HuffPost, “I disagree with Senator Feinstein that these hearings were one of the best or even acceptable. I think Amy Coney Barrett didn’t answer basic questions about her beliefs and has repeatedly stonewalled it. We received far fewer direct responses than we did at most of the Supreme Court hearings. “
Sam Levin contributed to this report