We noted yesterday and today the sudden and seemingly coordinated effort to drive California Senator Dianne Feinstein from office. Today The New Republic (the in-flight magazine of the Clinton Administration—those were the days) weighed in, with a column from Walter Shaprio: “Dianne Feinstein Can Resign Now With Dignity. . . DiFi, don’t be the Democrats’ Strom Thurmond.”
The real subtext of the subhed is clear, and it ain’t the Strom Thurmond parallel: “DiFi, don’t be another Ruth Bader Ginsburg.” The New Republic was one of the leading voices urging Ginsburg to resign from the Supreme Court while Obama was still in office, but she stubbornly refused. And we know how that turned out.
It would seem unlikely that there is much risk to the Democrats’ Senate balance given California’s partisan imbalance, but the TNR story, if you read it carefully, is perhaps another indicator of how alarmed Democrats are about their prospects in November:
In a political sense, in a 50–50 Senate, Feinstein’s stubborn determination to remain in office doesn’t matter, as long as she is physically able to vote. While, in theory, a Republican could be elected governor of California in November and appoint her successor if Feinstein had to abruptly retire, the Cook Political Reportrates Gavin Newsom’s reelection as safe for the Democrats.
After all, Ginsburg thought Hillary would win in 2016, and appoint her successor. Maybe TNR’s paranoia here is not so remarkable or unreasonable.
This bit is also suggestive:
The Chronicle never would have run a story this explosive without intense internal debate and scrutiny of the not-for-attribution sourcing. And a sense of kindness, mixed with political expediency, suggests that no one wants to be known as the senator who tried to push Feinstein into retirement.
Why would the Chronicle care about “political expediency”? That’s quite an unintentional admission.
Remember the first axiom of my great teacher in strategic studies (Harold Rood): Nothing happens for no good reason.