"Any career politician thinks about the political consequences of any significant vote and tries to avoid taking stances that will come back and bite him someday," said Gary Jacobson, a congressional scholar at the University of California at San Diego. "They don't have to remind themselves. It's instinctual -- they just do it.
"Predictably," Jacobson said, "the only Democrats who will vote for impeachment will be from conservative districts, and the only Republicans who will vote against it will come from predominantly liberal districts."
Ehrlich, who has established a fairly conservative record in Washington, has spent much of the past week in London with his wife, Kendel, at a bipartisan conference of American and European lawmakers. It is a December activity more typical for House members than grappling with a matter as grave as a presidential impeachment.
Speaking by telephone at his London hotel room Friday evening, Ehrlich said he had heard no conflicting evidence, no credible explanation -- nothing at all -- from the White House to persuade him to oppose impeachment.
"Serial perjury and obstruction of justice are impeachable," Ehrlich said. "The facts, to this point in time, have gone unchallenged by the White House, and the facts are quite serious."
Ehrlich, a lawyer, said that Clinton's misleading answers under oath undermined the integrity of the legal system.
"I took depositions as an attorney," Ehrlich said. "My wife is a prosecutor. I know the ramifications if witnesses are allowed to lie."
In the past week, Ehrlich said, a Democratic friend who is also a lawyer called and urged him, for the sake of his political future, to vote against impeachment.
"I asked him what he thought about it as a lawyer, and the guy did a 180 [degree turn]," Ehrlich said. "This all goes to the rule of law. If I did [vote on the basis of public reaction], I shouldn't collect my paycheck, really."
Pub Date: 12/07/98