Berman offers perspective on impeachment

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Rep. Howard Berman summed up the recent events in Washington this way: “It’s a process without logic and rationality that goes forward.” If the impeachment of President Bill Clinton is a runaway locomotive, Berman has been on board since the train left the station. The Democratic congressman sat on the House Judiciary Committee last year when the Republican majority voted two articles of impeachment against the president stemming from his affair with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky. Berman was in the House of Representatives when those articles were approved, and on Friday, he shared his insight with locals at the Malibu Jewish Center.

“There is a germ of truth,” he said of the Republicans, “that you have a political party consumed by hatred.” He said they genuinely believe in their cause but are also driven by an intense dislike of a man they see as “morally defective and character flawed.” Adding to their anger, he said, is the fact that the president’s popularity is at an all-time high. “Crazed hatred,” he said, “can explain some of this.”

Throughout the year, Clinton’s job approval ratings remained in the 60s — the highest on record for a second-term president. “It drives them nuts,” Berman said. Following Clinton’s State of the Union address last week, the approval number shot up to 76 percent.

But their case, according to Berman, amounts to a “narrow and constipated legal analysis of the facts by somewhat narrow and constipated people.”

Berman said he does believe that the president lied under oath and that he coached witnesses. But he is quick to add that the acts do not amount to “high crimes and misdemeanors” that warrant the president’s removal from office. “Yes, they are right when they say it is not just about sex,” he said. “But they never acknowledge that they are overturning a national election. The American people understood Bill Clinton’s weaknesses when they elected him. He won and then he won again.”