Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the elderly Democratic Senator from California, has passed away at 90 years old, sources from California have revealed. She was the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first female mayor of San Francisco, and one of two of the first female senators from the state of California.
In her dotage, however, Sen. Feinstein mainly became known for her old age and the impact it was having on both her career and the perception of the Senate as being full of retirees rather than young people with the vigor and energy necessary to get the work done.
Former Speaker of the House and California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi commented on Feinstein’s death, saying, “Dianne Feinstein, right from the start, was an icon for women in politics.” Similarly, current Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer added, “She’s a legend. A legend in California as the first woman senator. A legend in the Senate. She was the leader on so many different issues.”
Sen. Schumer also said, speaking on Sen. Feinstein’s decision to retire when her term ended in 2024, “And she got a standing ovation that lasted minutes and minutes. One of the longest I’ve ever seen. Which shows the love our caucus, and the country have for this wonderful, wonderful leader and legend, Dianne Feinstein.”
Sen. Feinstein was born in June of 1933 to a Russian Orthodox mother and Jewish father. Growing up, she worshipped at the Temple Emanuel Synagogue but graduated from San Francisco’s Convent of the Sacred Heart, a Roman Catholic all-girls high school in the area. She then studied at Stanford University, from where she graduated in 1955.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, recounting Feinstein’s early days in politics, said, “I remember that I was trying to get a house here in San Francisco, when they wouldn’t allow Black people easily to get houses. And there was a demonstration and this angular tall, great looking white woman pushing a baby stroller with a little kid in it, who nobody knew anything about, came out to participate in the protest. That was Dianne Feinstein! And it was that long ago, and so I am a great admirer.”
Brown also commended her later career, particularly her work on the assault weapons ban, saying “Dianne Feinstein is the only member of Congress either on the Congressional side or on the Senate side who’s ever been able to get a controlled weapons ban signed into law. Dianne got that.”
Sen. Feinstein had, before her passing, been growing seemingly more frail by the month. In August, for example, she had to go to the hospital after tripping and falling over a chair in her house, with her office saying, “Senator Feinstein briefly went to the hospital yesterday afternoon as a precaution after a minor fall in her home. All of her scans were clear and she returned home.”
That came after a serious bout of shingles in the spring that left the Senator mostly indisposed, leading many at the time to wonder why she was still in the Senate instead of someone younger and more vigorous.
Featured image credit: (Benjamin Dunn/Neon Tommy), from Flickr
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