Opinion: Ever a team, Howard Berman & Henry Waxman pick Barack Obama

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It once was a ubiquitous term in California politics: The Berman-Waxman machine.

It often was spoken of reverentially -- or fearfully, among those who found themselves on the opposing side of an apparatus that, starting in the 1970s and extending into the early 1990s, came to absolutely dominate politics on Los Angeles’ Westside (down to the judgeship level) and was a force in parts of the central city and the San Fernando Valley, as well as the state Legislature.


For a variety of reasons, those days are gone. But Reps. Howard Berman, left, of Valley Village and Henry Waxman, below, of Los Angeles -- who first begin acting in concert when they became friends decades ago at UCLA -- marched in lockstep again today. They jointly joined the steady parade of Democratic superdelegates now lining up behind Barack Obama’s quest for the party’s presidential nomination.

Waxman, 68, is one of the House’s senior members in service -- he was part of the ‘Watergate class’ first elected in 1974. Berman, 67, won his seat in 1982, after a stint as a state assemblyman.

The Democratic takeover of the House in the 2006 election elevated both to powerful positions: Berman chairs the chamber’s foreign affairs panel; Waxman heads the committee on oversight and government reform (where he has reveled in probing the workings of the Bush administration at every opportunity).

The real importance of their endorsement, however, is noted in the second sentence of the release from the Obama campaign announcing their endorsement: ‘Both are respected leaders in the American Jewish community...’

As much as Obama has sought to cast himself as a strong supporter of Israel, he has work to do ...

... to lock down the degree and intensity of support from the American Jewish community that the Democratic standard bearer traditionally can count on. The decision by Berman and Waxman to get off the fence will help him on this front, at least in the Los Angeles area.

The rest of the release, in which the two men lavishly praise Obama, can be read here.

For the latest on other superdelegates making decisions today, go here.

-- Don Frederick

Photo credits: Associated Press (Berman); Bloomberg News (Waxman)