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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

Jim Brown, Dianne Feinstein, and Donald Trump: Knowing When to Leave the Stage

Jim Brown and Donald Trump

When do you leave the stage? Do you have to die first? I thought about this because of three people who were in the NYT on May 20, 2023, print.

Hall of Famer Jim Brown who had died (front page)
Senator Dianne Feinstein who is deteriorating before our very eyes (front page)
Former President Donald Trump.

As I was reading the various articles, I realized there was a connection whether by chance, coincidence, or design or some combination.


When should an athlete hang up his/her cleats? Oftentimes the decision is not up to the athlete. Sometimes a person does not make the team or no longer can make the team. People may find at age 25 that their sports career is over. What do they do next? Suppose they have no high school degree? Or no college degree except maybe showing up for class. What are they going to do for the rest of their life?

Jim Brown went out on top. He was still capable of years of high level performance as a running back in the NFL. Yet he chose to leave that career and pursue other actions such as movies.

Sandy Koufax was another athlete who retired at the top of his game. In his case, it was for medical reasons. He simply could not do what he had been doing without destroying himself.

Lately tennis has provided multiple examples of people leaving the sport. They seem to do so not while they at the top of the game but while they have faded and no longer are a relevant force at the championship tournaments. Roger Federer, Venus Williams, and Serena Williams all played past their prime. They play on when injuries and surgeries had replaced winning as their reason for being in the news. Now Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from the French Open, his tournament so clearly his end is in sight. It is time for him for retire or take a farewell tour.

Sometimes people retire because they have nothing left to prove and a lot to lose if they continue to play – see John Elway and Peyton Manning.

And then there are Tiger Woods and Tom Brady.

But eventually time catches up with all athletes. That does not mean they know when to leave the stage; sometimes they need to be pushed.


Politicians don’t come with expiry dates. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein both became Senators from California in 1992, the Year of the Woman. Boxer stepped down last cycle and sometimes can be seen as a talking head on cable news. By contrast, not only did Feinstein run one cycle ago when she could have stepped down after a long and successful career; she ran again. She pledged to step down next time and not run in 2024. Already candidates are stepping up to run in that election.

Feinstein also is gambling that she will make it until then. Her deterioration has become quite noticeable. Her most recent public appearances have been shocking. Her physical appearance was of someone in a senior living home close to hospice. She clearly is not capable of doing her job right now yet alone continuing for another year and half. She would be the winner of the Strom Thurmond Award for the most physically and mentally diminished Senator of the year. Even 89-year-old Chuck Grassley is robust by comparison.

We are at the stage now where the kids have to tell mom and/or dad that is it time to stop driving before they hurt themselves or someone else or both. Unfortunately there is no one to do so in the Senate. To be fair, it is possible that situation will change at any moment. Just because she says she wants to remain in office until the end of her term does not mean will do so.

As a result, the Governor of California never knows from day to day if he will have to a momentous decision.

As a result, the Senate Majority leader never knows from day to day what the status of having a working majority will be.

As a result, the Vice President never knows when she will have to be on standby for a critical vote in the Senate.

Clearly Feinstein is no Jim Brown, Sandy Koufax, or even Tom Brady.


Determining when the immature child with the emotional maturity of a three year old will leave the stage is much more problematical. He needs to be at the center of the stage. He needs for the attention to be on him. He needs to be packing in audiences and filling arenas so he can brag about how he is still the one around whom all the wannabees circle. So far nothing has happened to thrust him off the island. That doesn’t mean it won’t happen prior to the Republican convention. That doesn’t mean on a Republican debate stage the other candidates won’t gang up on him with the cry, “You are a loser. You’re fired.”

Now people are waiting with baited breath for the big indictments to follow. When will the Fulton Georgia District Attorney invite him and a slew of people to make themselves available? Apparently the beginning of August. Although everyone knows it is coming, it will still be shock when all the names are read, the charges are made public, and the people scramble to show up. The experience will cement his image as a loser, and a whiny loser at that.

Then comes the heavy artillery at the federal level. Mar-a-largogate is likely to be another blow to the head. Even his own lawyers are abandoning ship.Everytime their client opens his mouth he digs himself deeper in to a hole and undercuts the work of his lawyers. It is not as if the indictment in August will of one individual only. It is not as if the indictment will be for one charge only. The rooster of people who have received immunity also will be a shock. And all the witnesses arrayed against him will be Republicans including people who had worked for him.

But wait! There is more.

There is the federal indictment for seeking to influence the election at the state legislators.
There is the federal indictment for the fake electors.
There is the federal indictment for January 6.

Meanwhile, Rudy Giuliani will be accumulating indictments of his own.

In short, the pressure for him to leave the stage will mount. I have no idea what will happen then. I do not know how the indictments will change the political landscape. I suspect these indictments will take their toll and provide real Republicans the cover they need to push him aside. Real Republicans are even reluctant to run if there will be a MAGA RINO at the top of the ticket or running in a primary against them. It is quite possible that it will be the Republicans themselves who finally push him offstage as the indictments pile up and he rants and raves in response.

And he is being sued again now for $3 million. He can’t keep his mouth shut. I do not know how the indictments will impact him physically and mentally. I do not know what will happen if the immature child with the emotionally maturity of a three-year-old erupts on his media outlet, is shut down by multiple judges, and defies them. We will have to wait and see.

One thing we can be sure of, he won’t leave at the top of his game.

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