Reaaalllyy curious moment yesterday, made even more curious by the fact that rank and file Democrats are warming up to Amy Coney Barrett. As ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein led the charge to derail Barrett’s confirmation, but instead ended up failing, largely because the task of delegitimizing Barrett was impossible in the first place. While voters could take comfort in Barrett’s normality, Democratic activist groups exploded over the failure — and took aim at Feinstein in particular, especially for her polite manner.
Late yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer hinted to reporters that he had rebuked Feinstein, and that her assignment Judiciary might get yanked:
Reporter: "Some progressive groups have spoken out criticizing Sen. Feinstein for her handling of the hearings… Do you plan to make any changes to the Judiciary Committee?"
Sen. Chuck Schumer; "I had a long and serious talk with Sen. Feinstein. That's all I'm going to say." pic.twitter.com/Rr5URoftar
— The Hill (@thehill) October 20, 2020
Schumer, speaking to reporters during a press conference, declined to say if he would make changes to the Judiciary Committee or to disclose how his conversation with Feinsten went.
“I had a long and serious talk with Sen. Feinstein. That’s all I’m going to say,” Schumer told reporters.
Asked if he could discuss the conversation, he added: “Nope.”
Schumer’s decision to sidestep questions about Feinstein’s future comes after the California Democrat, 87, sparked calls for her caucus to replace her as the ranking member on the Judiciary Committee over her handling of Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination hearings.
Needless to say, this is one hell of a way to treat a long-time colleague who has dutifully done your bidding for decades. Schumer wouldn’t have been in this position if (a) he and Harry Reid hadn’t blockaded judicial nominations from 2002-5, and then (b) he and Reid hadn’t escalated things when Republicans retaliated by eliminating the filibuster on presidential appointments in 2013. That did leave an exception for Supreme Court nominees, but no one in their right mind would have thought Mitch McConnell wouldn’t use that 2013 precedent to remove the exception. And then Schumer wasted that by attempting to filibuster Neil Gorsuch.
Feinstein went along for all of those actions, protecting leadership’s flanks all the way. Then she got stuck with its consequences in Judiciary, while Schumer got to keep taking shots from the cheap seats. For all her trouble, Schumer’s dropping hints that he’ll throw Feinstein under the bus to save his own backside with progressive groups who demanded the impossible. Stay classy, Chuck.
Judiciary colleague Chuck Grassley went on Twitter to shame Feinstein’s critics, presumably including Schumer, as “sexist & ageist” today:
Democrats calling for Senator Feinstein to step down from Judiciary Ranking Member should think twice abt their sexist & ageist motivations against an outstanding legislator & icon in her own right Attacks on Senator Feinstein are totally unjustified
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 21, 2020
“Sexist & ageist”? Maybe. Ingrate? You betcha.