Sen. Dianne Feinstein found herself engulfed in controversy Friday after an activist group posted video of their encounter with the California senator and it didn’t look good. Faced with children and teenagers (and their chaperones) calling for the senator to support the Green New Deal, Feinstein appears dismissive and smug as she tells them the measure is unrealistic and has no chance of passage. At several points of the conversation, Feinstein seems irritated and delivers quite a few cringe-worthy lines. One of the most shocking surely is when Feinstein asks a teenager who says she has to listen to them because they voted for her how old she is. When she tells her she is 16, Feinstein fires back: “Well, you didn’t vote for me.” In another part of the exchange, an irritated Feinstein appears to throw her qualifications on the children’s faces, saying she has “been doing this for 30 years” and that she just won a big election. “I was elected by almost a million-vote plurality.” Feinstein said. “And I know what I’m doing. So you know, maybe people should listen a little bit.”
It all looks pretty horrible for Feinstein, who suddenly seems like an out of touch lawmaker who can’t even deign to listen to a group of children who are concerned about climate change. The edited video of the exchange quickly went viral and forced Feinstein to issue a statement Friday evening to try to tamp down the controversy. “I want the children … to know they were heard loud and clear,” she said in the statement that misstated the group’s name as the Sunshine Movement rather than the Sunrise Movement. “I have been and remain committed to doing everything I can to enact real, meaningful climate change legislation.”
It all looks pretty bad for the senator. But before you jump to conclusions, be sure to watch the full video of the encounter. Sure, the cringe-worthy moments are still there like the one when she tells a young woman she “should run for the Senate” if she’s so sure about what she’s talking about. But suddenly things don’t look so terrible for the senator from California who appears to recognize straight away that children are being used as political pawns. Feinstein could have just smiled and nodded for the camera. Instead, she decided to challenge the children into thinking like legislators and what could realistically pass Congress in the current political climate. Feinstein repeatedly tells the children she has an alternative plan that she thinks is better and she encouraged them all to read it and give her comments on that.
And, at the very end, it sure looks like one of the teenagers (and one who had a particularly tense exchange with Feinstein at that) walked away from the encounter with an internship.
Support our independent journalism
Readers like you make our work possible. Help us continue to provide the reporting, commentary and criticism you won’t find anywhere else.Join Slate Plus