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. las vegas joe

    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!

    Posted By Alex : December 3, 2007 4:29 pm

    talk about flip floping this is samething that you can only learn before becaming a hillpraiser, i just cant tell if you are for the queen or not,it seems as if you really dont have much conviction for your candidate.i suggest you shop around the sale is not done yet.

    December 3, 2007 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  2. Bob, Roxboro, NC

    Better now than later.

    Hillary is a really fine choice for president.

    Until you know her.

    This coming election scares the hell out of me. There's little hope that America will change course and get right with any of the front running candidates in either party.

    December 3, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  3. Tex Mex, NYC, NY

    “I want a long term relationship. I don’t want to just have a one night stand with all of you.”

    Clinton while campagning in Bettendorf, Iowa on Sunday, 02 December 2007.

    I would beg to disagree with Mr.Reich: Mrs Clinton does have some unique convictions on long term relationships. I guess this is her new strategy to rally the men's vote.

    December 3, 2007 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  4. Megha, San Antonio, TX

    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.

    Posted By mark, IL : December 3, 2007 4:26 pm

    Mark you could not have said it better. Also, all Obama supporters, please tell me why Obama is running a clean campaign?
    1. He is the only democratic candidate to launch a website on another candidate from the same party. C'mon, how is that changed politics?
    2. If Obama attacks Hillary, it's Ok, but if she attacks him, it's not ok. I think Obama supporters are flip-flopping just like their candidate.
    3. Just coz Obama says he will change things around and he is a diff politician, all the people are running behind that without even thinking. Can someone educate me how he's diff from any other politician. Coz he is attacking Hillary, he takes money from Lobbyists, his Senate records are not open, he PAC fund is messed up. Even Mike Gravel and Chris Dodd called him out on the lobbyist issue.

    December 3, 2007 05:17 pm at 5:17 pm |
  5. Daniel, NY

    Obama will need all the help he can get considering that he has a lot of ground to make up yet with a month to go. A quick look at the wave of five early-state polls released this morning shows that Clinton has kept the upper-hand, including in Iowa!

    December 3, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  6. James M, Tacoma WA

    Reich is right. Clinton is desperately lashing out because Americans are beginning to see what some of us have seen from the start: Clinton stands for one thing, and that is getting elected. Nothing else matters to her. It's all about the power.

    I, for one, am sick of Rovian nonsense in the White House. We don't need 8 more years of Karl Rove reincarnated as Mark Penn.

    December 3, 2007 05:18 pm at 5:18 pm |
  7. Dan, TX

    A lot of independents will not vote for Clinton. I am one of those. In no way am I a democrat. I will vote for Obama, but if Clinton gets the nod, four more years of republicans will be just fine with me.

    December 3, 2007 05:19 pm at 5:19 pm |
  8. THOMAS BILLIS las vegas nv

    What Reich lacks in stature he sure does not make up in loyalty.

    December 3, 2007 05:21 pm at 5:21 pm |
  9. Caren

    Here's the truth. Reich resigned because he was on the verge of getting fired by Clinton.
    He was known as a Judas in the Clinton administration. He constantly fed the media negative stories about Clinton while grinning in his face everyday.

    He & Louis Freeh were both the holier than thou Judases of the Clinton administration. He is two feet tall & has a napoleonic comlex to boot. Anybody who takes Reich serious as some authority is really desparate.
    The fact that he calls Hillary "friend" speaks more to his hypocrisy than anything else. He's a VERY little man in many ways.

    December 3, 2007 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  10. Ron, TX

    I'm glad to see at least ONE HONEST PERSON came out of the Bill Clinton administration.

    December 3, 2007 05:23 pm at 5:23 pm |
  11. Laura Tulsa OK

    I see this lack of conviction reflected her followers, especially in the area of immigration. There is no clear cut stance she nor her supporters have. Some of them totally rip on Mike Huckabee for welcoming discussion of giving some lee way for illegal immigrants, and some of them are just interested in fighting against whatever President Bush puts forth (which is also a program to absorb illegals into our system.) Very few of them want a wall, since that's a very Republican thing to want. So what does Hillary and what do her followers want to do about illegal immigration?...

    December 3, 2007 05:24 pm at 5:24 pm |
  12. Paul Honsinger, Lake Havasu City, Arizona

    Glad to see that there is some slowdown in the torrent of Clinton Worship in the mainstream media. Absolutely, this candidate's middle name shoudl be "whatever it takes." She has no CONVICTIONS on issues, merely POSITIONS. Note her excuse for the comments on the booing she got in Iowa–that she wasn't there and had no feel for the room. All she had to do was answer the question, which does not require a feel, just a spine.

    December 3, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  13. Gary, San Diego,CA

    Those who say CNN is Clinton News Network should think again. CNN has not been fair towards Hillary Clinton.

    When was the last time CNN post someone from Hillary camp saying bad things about Obama or other democrat candidates?

    This CNN posting should be stopped, to be fair to all candidates. Endorsement anouncement is OK, but not this.

    December 3, 2007 05:25 pm at 5:25 pm |
  14. William


    Why are you so vicious for your former boss' wife? isn't
    it because they complained about the tells-all book you wrote? Please do not assume readers do not know anything.

    this tells people you are not a grateful man. Being not grateful make people think twice what you say.

    December 3, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  15. Ben, Columbus, Ohio

    This is a man who apparently wants Obama money and business. He writes several articles in favor of Obama and then like many others use "bashing Hillary" to draw attention to his book or publications. And then an Obama group makes comments like above. Now, who's being morally correct here? Not the Obama group. Come on people wake up!!! And, I guess Obama doesn't play politics and has conviction on everything. I don't think so. He loves poker. Poker face? You know? Good liar!

    December 3, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  16. Hillarylover in SA

    Posted By a.thomas, new york, ny : Why would we care what an obama supporter say? We could find lots of Hillary supporters saying negative things about Obama too!

    Look at the AP polls today. People who count (the dem voters) have spoken. Hillary beats Obama in issues, in leadership, in electability, etc.

    Hillary 08!

    Screw Reich – don't you people understand we stand strong behind Clinton.

    December 3, 2007 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  17. Art Jenkin, Moscow Mills, Missouri

    Hillary Clinton is a liar. She always has been. I know not why any sane person would listen to anything she says. Her husband did not have sex with that woman. And Hillary couldn't find the paperwork. Dosen't anyone remember their lies of long ago? The Clintons are both liars.

    December 3, 2007 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  18. Liberal Chic

    Alex :

    Hear, hear. An intelligent (wo)man speaks.

    BlueGoose :

    No, I think Hillary's got to pass Iowa and New Hampshire. What if she loses in BOTH states and people in SC and FL decide to be lemmings?

    I am not a praying kind of girl, but let's do!

    We are not a nation of idealistic college students. We cannot afford a Democratic presidential candidate who panders to the vocal left wing minority.

    And these people who yap about candidates of principle are probably the same ones who voted for Bush and now act like he's public enemy #1. He seemed like a man of great convictions and principles seven years ago, didn't he?

    Plus, let's face it, Kennedy might have had charisma, but he wan't much of a president. Obama has even less experience and he's going to be about as effective. Except people don't adore him like they adored JFK so he won't go down as some great president in airbrushed history.

    December 3, 2007 05:38 pm at 5:38 pm |
  19. a.thomas, ny, ny

    I have seen a few posts saying Obama could not win states like Ohio, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, etc in a general election.

    Whereas Obama polls better with... Republicans than any other Democrat...

    Posted By Dan, NJ : December 3, 2007 4:39 pm

    Dan: Please wake up. The republicans say that they support Obama NOW because they want Obama to get nominated. Obama is more easily beatable than Hillary. These republicans will not support Obama after his nomination. In fact, these republicans will spread rumours or disclose some dirty linens that Obama may have (possibly for a young and inexperienced politician), in order to make him not electable.

    Hillary has been subject to the republican dirty tricks for many many years. She survived and won in the end. Obama does not stand a chance.

    Hillary 08!

    December 3, 2007 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  20. John Halverson DC

    Iowa voters will have a choice "between someone who talks the talk, and somebody who's walked the walk." that is a very bold statement for someone that is historically a coat tailer! and runs poll politics. The amazing thing is that she just refuses to see what a huge hypocrite she is.

    December 3, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  21. JAB Houston Texas

    A vote for Obama is a vote for the Republicans – sorry, but he has no chance of winning the Presidency. Why do you think Karl Rove is trying to help him. Wake up people!

    December 3, 2007 05:53 pm at 5:53 pm |
  22. Steve, Indianapolis, IN

    Geez...she's even completely polarizing among her own party! I can't imagine how such a kind and endearing woman can rub so many people the wrong way...

    December 3, 2007 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  23. John, Austin, Texas

    With an "old friend" like Reich, I'd really reconsider who gets my Christmas cards every year. Just a little bit of levity.

    December 3, 2007 05:55 pm at 5:55 pm |
  24. theprofessional

    Maybe the people in Bill Clinton's cabinet are tired of Hillary trying to take credit for everything they accomplished in the '90s. Does anyone really know what Hillary's experience as First Lady is? Can anybody name even one thing she accomplished back then? Other than running smear campaigns against Bill's mistresses and driving America's health care system full speed into a brick wall, I mean.

    December 3, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
  25. Alicia Bronx, Ny

    I agree. Reich also points calls out the new Clinton manufactured scandle of Obama wanting to be President since age five. She is getting desparate.

    December 3, 2007 05:56 pm at 5:56 pm |
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