I took a little flack from some of our conservative readers when, in a recent post, I said that I once respected Dianne Feinstein, the senior senator from my adopted home state. While Mrs. Feinstein has a largely liberal record, until recently, she had not joined the angry left in leveling mean-spirited accusations against the president.
She has always expressed her disagreements with conservatives in a civil tone and has not joined some of her more partisan colleagues in opposing a policy merely because the president supported it. She was one of the few Democrats to support his prescription drug program, perhaps realizing that even though it was a Republican bill, it was largely a New Democratic policy, the kind of legislation consistent with former President Clinton’s rhetoric.
But, lately, Senator Feinstein has leaned to the left. After saying she would not vote to filibuster the nomination of Samuel Alito, she did just that. In her questioning both of that good man last month and of Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez this month, she seemed to have adopted the tone of her more partisan California colleague. Perhaps, she was worried that anti-Bush gadfly Cindy Sheehan was threatening to challenge her in the California Democratic primary this spring.
On the same day that Mrs. Sheehan announced that she won’t run against Mrs. Feinstein, Feinstein came out in favor of the bill to renew the Patriot Act. At National Review Online’s the Corner, Byron York (whose post alerted me to Mrs. Feinstein’s support), notes that former San Francisco Mayor finds that the revised bill includes “three basic changes” which “improve the bill.”
Because President Bush supports renewal of the Patriot Act, the angry left opposes it. They’re not concerned that failing to renew it might compromise our security. They would see its defeat as an embarrassment for the man they revile. And given how strong a presence the angry left has in the Golden State, support for the Patriot Act could spell doom for a Democrat who faces a primary challenger with strong backing from the far left. With Cindy out of the race, Senator Feinstein no longer need worry about offending the angry left and can return to her roots as a responsible liberal — and a, by and large, decent Senator.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com