When you’re in the middle of a pandemic and going through tremendous life changes at the same time you’re more vulnerable to making mistakes with who you might connect with as a lifeline. I made the mistake of connecting with someone who it turned out had a lot of points of view even more disturbing than some of mine, despite my intense belief to support the right for anyone to have an opinion regardless of whether or not I share it.
When Ruth Bader Ginsburg finally passed away in September 2020, I was literally having nighmares. Make no mistake, I admired and revered this woman’s legacy and attitude both as a legislator and a Jewish woman. But once the mourning period began to dississipate, the second-guessing began. Ginsburg had serious health problems that plagued both her effectiveness and her participation during the later part of the 2010s, and had been approached on several occasions by the Obama administration to step aside and perhaps allow for the chance to have a similarly-minded person take her place. For reasons that were deeply personal, she refused. Some saw that as more reason to embrace her, and at the time, I was one of them. But by the time G-d’s timetable made the decision for her, the country had changed dramatically. We endured and somehow gave in to the shenanigans that saw the beer loving family man Brett Kavanagh precede her onto the Supreme Court and give enough of a win to the Trump administration and the zealots who backed him that they now saw their mission as not only possible, but predestined. So the dread that I felt knowing full well that the spectre of the likes of Amy Coney Barrett was out there, and the determination to make sure it was someone like her–a woman, to be sure–would replace Ginsburg was fevered.
My social media “friend” would message me incessantly during the hearings, both consoling and trolling at once. When he sent me a link to an objective piece chronicling all of the above, he accompanied it with something to the effect of “Stubborn Old B–ch. Just Like The Old Ladies At My Market Who Demand Trimmed Brisket When I’m In A Rush”. He followed it up with a few more references that made it clear he kinda hated Ginsburg for reasons beyond her politics. Like her religion.
I eventually blocked him. But I couldn’t disagree with his point of view, nor what he predicted would eventually happen as we saw someone not only the polar opposite of Ginsburg politically but also with her specific view on right to life cascaded into office, tipping the Court into an inpenetrable red wall that did indeed overture Roe v. Wade last year. Ginsburg overstayed her welcome, and the Democratic party has suffered permanent damage as a result.
I have the same sense of dread this morning in the wake of the death of California senator Dianne Feinstein. For anyone who might be reading this who is inclined to overthink things, none of my angst has anything to do with her legacy. We should commend and memoralize her three decades plus as the longest-serving female senator, and the first to service California. A proud Democrat who ran San Francisco in an era when it actually was safe to shop and the worst thing you had to deal with walking downtown was the biting wind. A mentor to Barbara Boxer, who gave politically motivated women a thrill when she and Feinstein both were sworn into office on the same day, and to Gavin Newsom, who is now tasked with replacing her.
But as the ASSOCIATED PRESS’ Steve Peoples and Michael R. Blood reported last night, the fact that Feinstein refused all calls, both political and personal, to step aside prior to this has made an already challenging call far more dificult:
The Democrats’ fragile majority in the U.S. Senate puts extra pressure on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to quickly pick a replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein following her death, a fraught decision for a two-term governor with national ambitions of his own.
The Democratic governor had promised to appoint a Black woman in 2021 as concerns grew about Feinstein’s declining health. He also has said he would avoid the field of candidates already campaigning for the post, which will be on the ballot next year and includes Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the state’s most prominent Black women currently serving in elected office.
In the hours after Feinstein’s death, Newsom quickly faced calls to honor his commitment, with some leaders calling on him specifically to name Lee to the post, a reminder of the fraught dynamic Newsom faces with a key Democratic constituency.
So Lee, who has somehow managed to send me even more e-mails asking for money in recent weeks than any of her potential opponents, apparently is out of the running. But take a look at the faces of those that the Left Angeles TIMES has offered up as possibilities:
Notice a common thread?
They look nothing like this guy, who has been battling his political opponents in Congress, leading investigations in January 6th and developing a far thicker skin than the “pencil neck” that the bully who leads the 2024 race to be his party’s Presidential nominee by 45 points mercilessly accuses him of having.
This was the receipt that Peoples and Blood amplified last night that seems to be dominating Newsom’s mind:
Aimee Allison, who founded She the People, a political advocacy network for women of color, said in a statement that “there is no clearer choice for this appointment than Rep. Lee.”
Lee herself has expressed her displeasure with the identity politics that appears to be in play, again per Peoples and Blood:
“The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election,” Lee posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Perhaps. But take a look at the resumes of those that the TIMES has cobbled together:
Angela Glover Blackwell, PolicyLink founder (D)eep experience in law and policy but does not hold elected office.
Lateefah Simon, Bay Area Rapid Transit board member (C)urrently serves on the California State University board of trustees.
London Breed, San Francisco mayor Been to the Union Square Target or Nordstrom’s lately? The last time I was in either was during the Feinstein adminstration. I hear I may have missed a chance to return?
I could continue, but I’m getting that sense of dread again. Feel free to read on if you dare.
And should Newsom be pressured into making what he believes is the call that would not give Lee the chance to actually audition for a job that perhaps she may not be the best fit for, he will be in fact creating two women of color with track records to compete with “Shifty” to the nomination. And an awful lot of chum for whomever emerges as their Republican opponent.
Very reminiscent of the kind of decision-making that the man many would like Newsom to usurp that has produced the likes of what is ironically an acronym that translates to KKK. Kamala. Ketanji. Karine.
Be honest, please. How’s all of that working out in the polls for the party at large? Let alone for the president?
Would Newsom then be seen as little more than a newer model of the same old car?
In his return to HBO/MAX last night (and not a moment too soon, especially for writers AND staff workers desperate for paychecks), Bill Maher beat me to the punch by contrasting Biden’s refusal to step aside for the likes of Newsom to that which Ginsburg displayed, even referencing our president as Ruth Bader Biden. Because he knows damn well how much we are suffering as a country as a result of that stubbornness–er, determination.
Have we just seen the same playbook utilized yet again?
And for anyone who may think I’m overreacting, consider this. We have previously elected two Republican actors as our governor. We had previously elected another Repblican actor, George Murphy, to the Senate, effectively opening the door for Reagan and Schwarzenegger. Don’t ttry and tell me a Steve Bannon-backed performance artist can’t or won’t emerge as another “Cyrus”.
Want harder numbers? Per STACKER, 3.4% of registered California voters are Black women–that’s approximately 885,000 people. When Newsom survived his recall election challenge in 2021–while Biden was riding the rave of his newness and leading the country out of the early depths of the pandemic–the 38% minority that voted to throw him out translated to 4.9 million voters. Per a 2021 article penned by the NEW YORK TIMES’ Soumya Karlamanga in advance of it, 24% of the state’s 26 million registered voters identified as Republican. My math has that at 6.248 million.
Forgive the niggliness (oh, you forgot already how accurately I spell?) . 6.248 million and 4.9 million are exponentially larger numbers than 885,000.
In his district alone, Schiff won reelection to Congress last fall with 150,000 votes–a 71% majority, That’s a lot closer to 885,000 than are 4.9 million or 6.248 million.
No, Adam Schiff isn’t perfect. Lord knows a certain lunatic who couldn’t resist stopping what he was doing in Westwood yesterday to grab a Carvel ice cream–because, honestly, the resemblance to Fudgie the Whale is uncanny, isn’t it?–has his thoughts. But do take a look at the size of the crowd that showed up to cheer him on. In WESTWOOD. Not Wrightwood.
Was this a time where a frail and compromised legacy politician should have stayed in office and delayed the inevitable to now? Is Maher so absolutely out of line to raise the concern of identity politics being outdated, as did his very balanced and nuanced guests? I encourage those of you who haven’t to watch his discourse, especially with Mary Katherine Ham, author of the GETTING HAMMERED podcast, mother of four and someone who seems to have similar thoughts about Feinstein and Ginsburg’s stubborness to those expressed by my one-time social media “friend”.
Perhaps at one time she had to wait in line longer for brisket than she may have preferred?
Yes, mourn Dianne Feinstein. It’s a shame she is no longer around to hear this justified praise. Arguably, she wasn’t all that capable of comprehending it all even in the last few months.
This should have happened sooner. When someone like Lee could have been given the job with a longer runway in a less politically charged time. She might have even given Schiff a run for his money for elected office had the timing worked out. If she’s indeed so qualified, given the fact that Schiff’s had a busier Outlook calendar lately, why shouldn’t she have one now? Harry Truman and Lyndon Johnson both succeeded deceased predecessors as President. Truman’s opportunity happened earlier in his boss’ term and he won reelection. So did Johnson, even though his came at roughly the same point in time as it will for Feinstein’s replacement.
If Aimee Allison is right, Gavin, why SHOULDN’T she get the chance to audition now?
We’re not afraid she ISN’T the best OVERALL candidate, are we?
I mean, isn’t that the ultimate goal of the Democratic party, and what ostensibly sets y’all apart from those who can and elected actors and reality TV show hosts?
Or did you learn your stubborness from Dianne Feinstein?
That, I fear, is the real legacy she leaves behind now. And a year or so from now, it could be way worse.
I probably won’t be invited to her shiva. Besides, if I was, someone might threaten to have me arrested if I did.
But I sure hope they serve really good brisket for those that do pay their respects.
Until next time…