New reports suggest that Senator Dianne Feinstein of California has been diagnosed with previously undisclosed encephalitis, believed to be a consequence of her recent hospitalization for shingles. These reports have raised concerns about the health of the aging politician.
Feinstein, a prominent figure in California politics, made a triumphant return to Congress earlier this month, using a wheelchair. However, the images of Feinstein on that day were unsettling to many observers.
Observers noted that she appeared with one eye drooping and exhibited signs of confusion, leading to speculation about a potential dementia-related condition affecting her workday.
Feinstein’s concerning appearance was attributed to Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a condition that causes facial and neck paralysis and was believed to be a result of her shingles infection, as reported by The New York Times.
Interestingly, anonymous sources who spoke to The New York Times claimed that Feinstein had also been diagnosed with encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain often triggered by a bacterial or viral infection.
The reported diagnosis of encephalitis is particularly worrying given long-standing concerns about Feinstein’s mental abilities. Encephalitis can lead to various cognitive problems such as confusion, dementia, mood swings, language difficulties, and hallucinations.
Speculations about Feinstein’s mental capacity and suitability for her position have circulated for a considerable time. As early as 2020, The New Yorker published an article discussing alleged signs of senility, including severe short-term memory and comprehension issues. Subsequently, other left-leaning publications such as NPR, The New York Times, and Vanity Fair have also questioned her ability to serve as a senator.
Aligned with these concerns, Feinstein has appeared disoriented and perplexed during her return to Congress. In a conversation with Slate journalist Jim Newell, when asked about her colleagues’ reaction to her comeback, she seemingly denied her extended absence, stating, “No, I haven’t been gone. You should follow the—I haven’t been gone. I’ve been working.”
It remains uncertain whether Feinstein, or whatever remains of her, will complete her term until 2025. However, if her health continues to deteriorate at the current pace, it is likely that the calls for her resignation will intensify. Even within her own party, Feinstein is increasingly viewed as a liability rather than an asset for advancing the progressive agenda of the Democratic Party.