December 3rd, 2007
03:12 PM ET
15 years ago

Reich: Clinton lacks 'conviction about anything'

Robert Reich had some sharp words for Clinton Monday

(CNN) - Bill Clinton's former Secretary of Labor issued a blistering criticism of the former president's wife on Monday, accusing her of "not telling the truth" on Social Security and taking marching orders from her top pollster.

Reich, who has not endorsed a candidate but has written glowingly of Illinois Sen. Barack Obama in recent months, ripped Hillary Clinton for saying Sunday that Iowa voters will have a choice "between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who's walked the walk."

"I don’t get it," Reich wrote on his blog. "If there’s anyone in the race whose history shows unique courage and character, it's Barack Obama. HRC’s campaign, by contrast, is singularly lacking in conviction about anything. Her pollster, Mark Penn, has advised her to take no bold positions and continuously seek the political center, which is exactly what she’s been doing."

Reich, who calls Clinton "my old friend" in the blog post, has a long-standing relationship with the Clintons, going back to when Reich and the former President were classmates and Rhodes Scholars at Oxford in the late 1960s. He left the Clinton administration in 1997 and now teaches public policy at the University of California-Berkeley.

Reich called Obama's Social Security plan to lift the cap on payroll taxes above $98,000 "a progressive solution" and said Clinton's preference to form a commission to examine how to fix Social Security is "avoiding the issue, and it's irresponsible."

He also picked apart Clinton's health care plan: "HRC doesn’t indicate how she‚d enforce her mandate, and I can’t find enough money in HRC’s plan to help all those who won’t be able to afford to buy it."

Reich called the New York senator's recent attacks on Obama a "series of slurs."

"If she's worried her polls are dropping, this is not the way to build them back up."

The Clinton campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

- CNN Political Producer Peter Hamby

soundoff (154 Responses)
  1. David,manchester,NH

    There! This will do it now. Informed people who have been there are taking the stand. Don't be fooled anymore by Hillary. Take your stand too and see where Obama is with issues. What a gentlemen?

    December 3, 2007 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  2. Jessica,Springfield,Ill

    wow,what else people need but people who are so knowledgable to tell you this woman is playing politics by going left,right and center. She has not indicated what exactly she will do with top burning issues this country look to be resolved as soon as the next president get elected.
    Hillary said in Iowa via video phone that he will wait for the congress to pass the legislation on Immigration. So as other issues Hillary, we know that. But we want to know if you are truthful candidate which you have proven not because you don't want to tell us who you are. And that is the main reason why I am not voting for you.

    December 3, 2007 04:00 pm at 4:00 pm |
  3. Alice, VA

    What people have been saying about Clinton, "Whatever it takes to win". Not what we need, Hillary.

    December 3, 2007 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Brad, Omaha NE

    why is his article filed under uncategorized? it is clearly about HRC's inability to convince even her friends that she is the right person for the job.

    maybe it is so the clinton news network can keep this article from surfacing under any search of her name

    nice job guess

    keep 'em honest

    and by "em" i mean you

    December 3, 2007 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  5. Theresa LV

    Thank you Mr Reich. The plain facts from a well-educated, knowledgeable gentleman who read both policies.

    It's hard to argue with the truth and hard facts.

    Let's see how long CNN allows this article to stay up.

    Obama '08

    December 3, 2007 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  6. Surrealist, Fort Myers, FL

    I thought I was informed. But after reading Reich's blogs. I'm beginning to think differently about how non-progressive her policies are compared to Obama's. Hmmmmmmmmmm.

    December 3, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  7. anon New York, NY

    I'm not sure how Mrs. Clinton is going to counter-attack one of her husband's cabinet members.

    Reich knows that as a cabinet member, his loyalty lies with the American people and not with the Clintons.

    Bravo for his courage in standing up to the power-hungry bullies.

    December 3, 2007 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  8. brenda,Tewsburry,ma

    Wow, CNN trying to balance the news now? What happened before that you could not do this?

    December 3, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Richard Tabuteau, Atlanta, GA

    Apparently whoever was in charge of the CNN Political Ticker before this week got fired. Finally we're seeing news items that don't only favor Sen. Clinton.

    More to the point of the article however, Robert Reich is right and Paul Krugman is wrong on social security. Furthermore, I can't understand what sense it makes for the person widely perceived to be running the most negative campaign in Iowa and has the highest disfavorables if any candidate Republican or Democrat would start making nasty and false comments about Sen. Obama.

    Sen. Obama always kept the distinctions between himself and other candidates to the issues and policy. He never (even though he rightly could have) questioned Sen. Clinton's character or integrity.

    December 3, 2007 04:10 pm at 4:10 pm |
  10. dan

    Everyone knows that Clinton is lying about Obama. She's taking Karl Rove's advice.

    Obama and Edwards, and Biden, and Dodd, and Kucinich, and Richardson have not attacked Clinton at all, just called her on her distortions. Her response is to get increasingly more bizarre in her claims. Obama is doing the right thing in just pointing out the truth.

    December 3, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  11. EE

    I agree.I dont also support Mr Obama but Hilary'S questioning of Mr Obama's character is appaling. This is a hard sell to Ameicans.

    Secondly during this campaign Mr Obama has complimented Hilary calling her smart, capable evening going to say Bill is terrific president.

    But Hilary returns the favour by slurring and throwing mud at Mr Obama.Hilary is too egocentric!

    I really cant really see why Hilary is so stressed by Obama's lead in polls.I fear she sees further crumbling in her campaign than a simple lead in polls by Obama.

    December 3, 2007 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  12. Milton Dropkin, Boynton Beach, fl 33472

    How can Obama with just 2 years in the Senate qualify for president. Compare him to Joe Biden with 35 years experience. As far as I am concerned If Sen. Obama wins the Democratic nomination I might have to vote Republican for the 1st time in 50 years. He is just not ready.

    December 3, 2007 04:17 pm at 4:17 pm |
  13. Chip Celina OH

    Yet another insider that dares say the empress has no clothes! But, many of the HillPraisers will once again dismiss this as a guy that has an axe to grind.

    December 3, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  14. bill,richmond, va

    I am so happy, finally some truly credible people coming out with the truth.CNN what will u do now.
    PS: why does cnn never display my comments when i use my real name KWAME.i have to use bill from va, iam i not american enuff? oh i see, poor OBAMA: u r a hero

    December 3, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  15. summus

    lifting the cap basically means increasing the payroll tax on educated hardworking people so that the lower uneducated class can get higher social security checks when they are older. If you make $98K or more you will never get back in monthly social security checks what you put into the system. It a raw deal- just another aspect of the pathetically weak social welfare system we have created in our country.

    John Locke warned of the rabble.

    December 3, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  16. Lee, Mays Landing New Jersey

    Finally an insider just plain telling the truth. Although I'd vote for HRClinton in a heartbeat over any member of the party that has brought our country such disaster and fiscal irresponsibility the last 6 years, she is my least favorite democratic candidate and the most likely to lose to a another republican disaster.

    December 3, 2007 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  17. dmw, roeland park, ks

    Obama will still lose the nomination no matter what Reich says. Reich worked for Bill Clintion, not Hillary Clinton.

    Obama has no experience in anything except having a large ego and trying to convince America he is the right person for the job by telling everyone that HOPE counts as experience. Hope does not do anything to increase our standing in the world.

    After February 5, we will not have to hear the Obama supporters screaming bloody murder when it is good news about Hillary and gloating with glee when anytime Hillary's name is mentioned in a negative way.

    December 3, 2007 04:24 pm at 4:24 pm |
  18. mark, IL

    I wonder how much Reich can be trusted on this matter... he seems to have had some problems with Clintons.

    "He published his experiences working for the Clinton administration in Locked in the Cabinet. The memoir was criticized for factual inaccuracies and was revised in the paperback edition."

    "He made his first video blog debut on on March 7, 2007 where he revealed he dated Hillary Clinton while in college."

    Regarding the Social security plan.. I never understood how Obama can be so specific in his plan, I trust more Hillary who intend to examine the issue. There are many things that need to be examined before you 'lift the cap on payroll taxes above $98,000" as Obama says. He has no idea what he's talking about.

    December 3, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  19. Steve in SC

    Ouch! That has to sting ... a lot!

    December 3, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  20. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    Some posters here have noted that CNN is increasingly printing articles that are not favorable to Hillary.
    Perhaps they are reading the handwriting on the walls and realize that Hillary actually is divisive, narcissistic, dulicitous, fork-tongued and not the choice of the majority of Americans.

    Now if only the hoard of Klinton Koolaid sippers on these blogs would wake up and smell the hypocrisy.

    She is not electable!

    December 3, 2007 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  21. sam, va

    i just came back from a 5 country tour and people, u have no idea what international reputation Obama is gaining.he is being closely watched as a hero is very remote places as well as advanced cities as well.i neither democrat nor republican(cos i trust neither) but can someone tell me what he has done elsewhere that he is being so revered.i know i might have missed out a lot on local politics.

    December 3, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  22. Cory, Port Saint Lucie, Florida

    Milton, as I've seen with other elections, Experience isn't always an important factor, The ability to change bad policies is much more important. Was JFK extremely experienced? I truly believe that Obama can make the changes necessary.

    December 3, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  23. Alex

    Let's remember that the only Clinton administration people who have come out for Obama over Hillary are the ones who left after the first term because the President's agenda wasn't liberal enough for them. While I respect there decision to stand by their convictions, the fact is, that the American people are simply not as liberal as the Democratic base or as conservative as the Republican base. The American people for the most part, are moderates that want to solve problems not idealogues who want to stand strictly by their principles at the cost of meaningful progress. I have no doubt that Obama is well intentioned, but he is also unelectable. Vote for Hillary!

    December 3, 2007 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  24. Ike Woodbridge , VA.

    When Bill Clinton ran for the presidency, people accussed him of running in the middle and being non commital. Well, he won two times, and we all enjoyed the best and longest economic growth and prosperity in our nation's history so far. Here we go again, Hillary is now being accussed by the same people that never believed that Bill Clinton could ever win given his centrist views on issues.
    I will take Hillary's so called lack of convinction any day over Obama's lack of strength and experience which if we don't unite now and rally behind Hillary, Republicans would use these two ares and shred Obama in pieces. This is why they want him to win the nomination because it would be a sure win for them in the general election. Hilarry has a better chance of winning the general election than Obama. Obama will not, and will never win one southern state. He is a black man. Are you kidding? TAKE IT FROM A BLACK MAN THAT LIVES IN THE SOUTH. GO HILARRY.

    December 3, 2007 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  25. BlueGoose

    Quit wasting your time pumping Obama- he can't win the electoral college. Do you think Ohio or Florida will vote for him? Think again. A vote for Obama just helps the Republicans keep the White House- its' not worth it.

    December 3, 2007 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
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