March 14th, 2013
06:52 PM ET
10 years ago

Feinstein describes feelings during exchange with ‘arrogant’ colleague

Washington (CNN) – Saying she felt "patronized" by Senate colleague Ted Cruz, Sen. Dianne Feinstein explained Thursday why she felt the need to raise her voice in anger at the Texas Republican during a debate over gun control.

"I felt he was somewhat arrogant about it," Feinstein said of Cruz's suggestion the Senate Judiciary Committee was ignoring the Constitution during its debate over banning semiautomatic firearms.

She spoke on CNN's "The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer."

"When you come from where I've come from ... when you found a dead body and put your finger in bullet holes, you really realize the impact of weapons," she continued, referring to the 1978 assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk, whose bodies she discovered at City Hall.

"When you see these weapons becoming attractive to grievance killers, people who take them into schools, into theaters, into malls - you wonder, does America really need these weapons? My answer to that is no. And so it's based on my experience," she continued.

The furious exchange with Cruz came before the judiciary panel passed the assault weapons ban Feinstein introduced on a party line vote. After Cruz implored the committee not to forget the Constitution in its debate, Feinstein angrily replied, "I'm not a sixth grader."

"I've studied the Constitution myself. I am reasonably well-educated and I thank you for the lecture," she continued, noting that the assault weapons ban backed by President Barack Obama but opposed by the powerful gun lobby exempted certain weapons.

"Isn't that enough for the people in the United States? Do they need a bazooka? Do they need other high-powered weapons that military people use to kill in close combat? I don't think so," she said.

She concluded by telling Cruz that "I come from a different place than you do. I respect your views. I ask you to respect my views."

Afterward, Feinstein said she needed time to "cool down" before speaking to her Republican colleague.

"I did say, 'Look, I'm sorry. But, you know, this is one thing that I feel very passionately about,'" Feinstein recalled saying.

Now that her assault weapons ban is heading to the full Senate, Feinstein said she expects Obama to begin working with lawmakers to build support.

Despite polls showing that such a prohibition resonates with Americans, most observers don't give the bill much of a chance in the full Senate.

The California Democrat isn't one of them.

"The people do want it," Feinstein said. "So I hope the people make the connection now with their representatives. In the West, in the Midwest, in the South and in the East. And say, 'yes, we agree with the polls. We want this bill.'"

The legislation was prompted by December's school shooting in Connecticut.

Filed under: Dianne Feinstein • Gun control
soundoff (412 Responses)
  1. CypressSteve

    I watched the exchange between Cruz and Feinstein several times and it appeared to me that it was FEINSTEIN that was incredibly arrogant. She took offense to a simple question from a junior senator. He simply asked her if she felt there were exceptions to the 1st and 4th amendments that she would support in the same way she is supporting exceptions to the 2nd amendment. The proper response would simply be: "Yes, Senator Cruz, I would. In fact, there actually ARE several exceptions to those rights as detailed in numerous court decisions. This is no different." Instead, Senator Feinstein took offense that some insignificant little junior senator would dare question her experience and knowledge. It reminds me of people that have to ask, "Do you know who I am?" in order to win an argument..

    No one should be offended over being questioned about their opinions. Even if they have been around for a LONG time. If their position is solid, it will stand up to questioning.

    March 15, 2013 12:28 pm at 12:28 pm |
  2. JR Ewing

    Well, considering that Moscone and Milk were both shot by White with a (get this) REVOLVER...she is wrong about this anyway...and considering she's been there for "20 years", obviously she's been there too long and she needs to get while the getting's good. Ted Cruz has her 'dead to rights' on his Constitutional questions...and since she got so upset in response to his questions, he obviously hit a nerve and that tells me he was spot on!!!!! She, and other hypocrites like her, need to retire back to the 'left coast' and leave the rest of us alone.

    March 15, 2013 12:30 pm at 12:30 pm |
  3. GGRaider

    Cruz is way too smart not to have read and understood the Heller case and to have appreciated that its holding completely undercuts his argument. I am tired of politicians who deliberately misrepresent the facts? Furthermore! It is the OBLIIGATION do news agencies like CNN to tell us when misstatements of fact are made?

    March 15, 2013 12:33 pm at 12:33 pm |
  4. Hoolio

    Typical Feinstein liberal elite behavior. Anyone who disagrees with her uninformed position is "attacking" her.

    Arrogant? Heck, she's arrogant, presuming to tell us that she knows what is best for us and we should comply like sheep.

    As a Jew, she ought to know better than most what happens when the population is disarmed under the guise of security.

    March 15, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  5. nothing new here

    I believe that legal law-abiding citizens have a right to protect their own homes and families....
    But people that abuse their rights to own guns need to be dealt with, esp. violent offenders.

    March 15, 2013 12:34 pm at 12:34 pm |
  6. nothingnew

    Cruz asked relevent questions that Feinstein could not and/or did not answer. By putting her personal experience in her 'non-response' it made it seem like Cruz was being arrogant and patronizing by asking the same questions again...which she still did not answer. What, because he said he like her 'passion' on the issue translates to him being patronizing? What bologna! At least Feinstein said only that, unlike Rachel Maddow, who turned Cruz's comments into sexist slander.

    March 15, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  7. sammieb51

    So a woman smacks him down and she is to blame.... time for the boys to start wearing their big boy pants, if they can't stand the heat they need to get out of hte kitchen.

    March 15, 2013 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  8. JR Ewing

    The other thing about this whole fiasco is...when are people going to truly understand this isn't a question of "Need"? It's not, never has been and never will be!! This is a question of our God Given Rights!!!! The Constitution doesn't grant us guarantees them!!!!!

    March 15, 2013 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  9. Kenman

    It is certainly Feinstein that is arrogant, and can't even tolerate a question from a "junior" senator! Plus, liberals always feign outrage when they don't want to answer a question that might reveal their outrageous beliefs!

    Because, if you knew how they were willing to run over the Constitution and YOU in their quest for power and control, YOU would be outraged!

    March 15, 2013 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
  10. Kenman

    Third effort to post: It is certainly Feinstein that is arrogant, and can't even tolerate a question from a "junior" senator! Plus, liberals always feign outrage when they don't want to answer a question that might reveal their outrageous beliefs!

    Because, if you knew how they were willing to run over the Constitution and YOU in their quest for power and control, YOU would be outraged!

    March 15, 2013 12:38 pm at 12:38 pm |
  11. Padraig

    Arrogant for asking civil questions. The only person in this incident that is arrogant is Feinstein, but what is new.

    March 15, 2013 12:39 pm at 12:39 pm |
  12. seekingrealjustice

    Funny, Gunowners feel patronized by the liberal left trying to make our legally owned firearms illegal. Fienstein needs to retire with a rocking chair and a knitting hook.

    March 15, 2013 12:42 pm at 12:42 pm |
  13. Luke Brown

    Cruz is way out of his league in the Senate. Texas used to elect real giants.

    March 15, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  14. conqui

    Cruz' questions were actually amateurish illustrations of standard beginning law student dialog in a beginning class on constitutional law. I don't see how he got out of law school. He's an embarrassment to the profession.

    March 15, 2013 12:45 pm at 12:45 pm |
  15. mabear87

    Cruz is just one more example of the absolutely stupid people in Texas. The dumbest president ever, Bush, Perry, the perfect Aggie joke, DeLay, Armey, and the most unethical person in the country Rove. I cannot believe anyone with an IQ over 10 would support assault weapons. The framers intended for everyone to be able to own a single shot musket and a single shot revolver. Cruz is not an American and I would hope that when they agree to start mental fitness tests, Cruz and Lapierre will be the firt ones tested. I can assure you that neither will pas.

    March 15, 2013 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  16. Harbormick

    There are exceptions to the 1st amendment. You can’t use freedom of speech to slander, libel or threaten.

    March 15, 2013 12:48 pm at 12:48 pm |
  17. TommytheT

    really? Put your fingers in Bullet holes? Why are you the ME? Wow you were a mayor and now have been in the senate for 20 years so you are now above being questioned? Seems to me you have been a senator for many of the years this country has gone downhill because of what our govt is doing, might want to reconsider bragging about it. Sorry Ms Feinstein, the cat is out of the bag and you are being exposed for the fool you are...shamefully it seems you have fooled the good people of CA for 20 years.

    March 15, 2013 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  18. A True Conservative

    @Rudy NYC "Maybe, just maybe, it's because Mr. Cruz never actually asked a question directed specifically at Sen. Feinstein. Cruz was speaking and asked a rhetorical question, for which a direct answer was never expected. Feinstein interupted him, hence the later apology, and blasted him for the insinuation of incompetence that the remark suggested."

    Well, maybe, just maybe, since she is a resonably well educated person, by her own standards, she knew that she could not give an honest answer without showing her true beliefs to the world. Fortunately, she already has done that. Unfortunately many citizens are blind to what she has already said in public. It amazes me that the so many on the left are so willing to give up rights to the government. As long as it aligns with their world view that is.

    March 15, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  19. kindakrass

    Does anyone else find it a bit odd that Dianne Feinstein decided to "finger" the bullet holes first instead of calling the police or 9-11 like a normal person would do upon discovering a dead body?? How sick is that?

    March 15, 2013 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  20. clyde glyde

    nothing is more arrogant than a progressive pig.

    March 15, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  21. anotherangryman

    How dare anyone question the liberal-fascist queen!

    March 15, 2013 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  22. TommytheT

    So Ms FeinStein, since you have been a mayor and a senator for 20 years, you now have the rights to tell me how many bullets I need in my gun? Some how you have been granted special powers to change the Bill of Rights, not thru the Amendment process but thru you silly opinion?

    20 years? Based on what has happened to us in the 20 years I would call your service an EPIC failure.

    March 15, 2013 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  23. Jason in VA


    Have anything besides an angry, emotional rant to share? Personal insults, low IQ claims, pretending to know what the founding fathers thought (obviously without reading the federalist papers), claiming Texans aren't Americans, etc. You should really keep your thoughts to yourself. You're way out of your league.

    March 15, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  24. fastrack

    We all must have watched two different film clips. I heard HIM hand down a lecture on the wording and the meaning of the 2nd Amendment, and then the 4th. He WAS delivering a lecture that should have been reserved for 6th graders who failed a basic test on the Amendments to the Consitution. Ms. Feinstein would have been within her rights to make him write "I will not disrespect my elders, nor will I presume to be better informed than a senior member of congress" 100 times on the blackboard. Granted, there is no one in D.C. who isn't arrogant. Term limits and either demanding a 40 hour week of these these clowns or mandating sessions of two weeks' duration every six months would go a long way toward instilling a little reality in them.

    March 15, 2013 12:54 pm at 12:54 pm |
  25. Sniffit

    Brass tacks:

    White male GOP/Teatroll condescends to well-educated veteran Senator who happens to be female.

    Said demal Senator fitghs back and rips him a new one.

    GOP/Teatrolls and MSM paint narrative that focuses on female Senator's angry self-defense, instead of the condescending misogyny of the male GOPer/Teatroll.

    Any questions?

    March 15, 2013 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
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