Senator Dianne Feinstein: Political Genius?


By Richard Colman

Wittingly or unwittingly, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-California) may have shone a stroke of political genius.

Ms. Feinstein, who is the ranking (top) Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, brought up the matter of sexual harassment just before her committee was to vote on confirming Judge Brett Kavanaugh for a seat of the Supreme Court of the United States. President Donald Trump nominated Kavanaugh for a seat on the High Court on July 9, 2018.

On September 20, 2018, the committee was scheduled to vote on the Kavanaugh nomination. He was expected to be confirmed on a party-line vote. The committee has 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats.

A few days before the vote, Ms. Feinstein released information saying that Mr. Kavanaugh, over 30 years ago, sexually harassed a woman named Christine Blasey, now Christine Blasey Ford.  At the time of the harassment allegation, both Ms. Blasey and Mr. Kavanaugh were high school students.

Ostensibly, Ms. Feinstein’s move was designed to kill Kavanaugh’s nomination. At this time, no one knows what the committee will ultimately do.

However, Sen. Feinstein’s move may have — and did — produce other consequences.

The Senate Judiciary Committee postponed its September 20 confirmation vote on Mr. Kavanaugh. Moreover, the committee agreed to take testimony from Ms. Blasey on September 24 or perhaps a later date.

The senator may have made it possible for Democratic senators from Republican (red) states — senators who are up for re-election — to vote against Mr. Kavanaugh. These senators, who purportedly have been leaning toward confirming Mr. Kavanaugh, may now have an excuse to vote against the judge.  These senators include Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), and Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana.)

The consequences of Ms. Feinstein’s actions may have made Democratic control of the U.S. House of Representatives, in the November 2018 mid-term elections, much more likely.  The harassment charges against Mr. Kavanaugh may have galvanized public opinion in such a way that voters are becoming, or have become, more inclined to choose Democratic candidates.  Recent polls show that Democrats have a good chance of winning control of the House.  For example, on September 24, 2018, pollster Nate Silver’s organization, FiveThirtyEight, reported that there is an 80 percent chance that Democrats will seize the House.

Ms. Feinstein may have made Mr. Kavanaugh look bad and, by extension, have made President Trump, who is not popular with many Americans, especially women, look even worse.  Ever since he became a candidate for president in 2015, Mr. Trump has been besieged by allegations that he is a misogynist.

Sen. Feinstein, who herself is up for re-election in November 2018, may have made her bid for a new Senate term inevitable.

The race for control of the Senate is too close to call.

Regardless of what the Senate Judiciary Committee decides about Mr. Kavanaugh, Ms. Feinstein, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992, may have done the Democratic party a great favor. 

If the House goes Democratic, Ms. Feinstein might be able to take much of the credit.   And if the Senate also goes Democratic, Ms. Feinstein may receive even more plaudits.

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William Hicks
William Hicks
2 years ago

She’s not so much a genius as that her republican counterparts are such dullard’s that they didn’t see this coming.