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. Tom Hagen - New York


    What experience did Woodrow Wilson have? What experience did Harry Truman have? What experience did JFK have? (It also appears his father bought a few elections for him), what experience did Jimmy Carter have? Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton?

    Now tell me what experience Hillary Clinton have? Being a First Lady does NOT make you an expert on world affairs, our economy, or Social Security.

    If she is so in love with her Healthplan, why didn't she present it in a bill? The Democrats control Congress.

    December 3, 2007 05:59 pm at 5:59 pm |
  2. Robert Cooper

    Reich's positive comments about Barack Obama will never make their way onto CNN. The network is so biased towards Hillary Clinton it's pathetic. Even their "independent" commentators are acknowledged Hillary supporters. It's not going to stop Barack from winning the nomination, though!

    December 3, 2007 06:02 pm at 6:02 pm |
  3. Jim, Irmo, SC

    This seems like a man who knows these people and is unwilling to back her. That should count for something. Everything? No, but this is not some random celebrity here.

    December 3, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  4. Hussein Osama, chicago, illinois

    Some posters here have noted that CNN is increasingly printing articles that are not favorable to Hillary....

    She is not electable!

    Posted By Randy S. Lawton, OK : December 3, 2007 4:27 pm

    CNN has been less than fair to Hillary Clinton.

    Here, CNN prints the negative comments of an Obama suporter against Hillary. CNN has not printed any negative comments against Obama from a Hillary supporter. Or, the obama supporters are just an angry bunch?

    HILLARY IS ELECTABLE, based on the dem voters of Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina, according to the AP poll released today. In fact, all democrat voters across america consider her the most electable of all democrat candidates.

    December 3, 2007 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  5. Floyd, Las Vegas, NV

    I find it funny that a man who barely entered (obama) the senate wants to become president so quickly. not only does he lack experience, but he thinks that charisma and personality (the thigns that made him famous) make him qualified to be president.

    There is so much unnecessary hate towards clinton that it only makes you wonder what her haters are thinking. are they angry because she is so influential and powerful? are they angry that she has gotten so many endorsements and is very moderate in her stances? i don't understand it, but when hillary does win next year, people will be very happy and surprised about it.

    December 3, 2007 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  6. Janice, Edmonton, Alberta

    A series of slurs??? What the heck does he call this rant of his? What the heck does he call the mudslinging Obama has been doing to Clinton?

    Or is it okay for all of her opponents to mudsling but not her?

    How sad

    Obama should be careful who he aligns himself with. So far I'm not impressed.

    December 3, 2007 06:26 pm at 6:26 pm |
  7. Noah, Chicago, IL

    To a.thomas, new york, ny: That's sort of an ironic statement, isn't it? I'll rephrase your statement: Why would we care what a hillary supporter say? (Note that I included the grammatical errors in your statement.) In other words, why would we care what you have to say, as a supporter of Hillary?

    This is democracy; we're supposed to listen to the other side. Stop being blind and following Hillary. Consider other options–that's what intelligent people do.

    December 3, 2007 06:30 pm at 6:30 pm |
  8. Greg, Phoenix, AZ

    And this is what her "friends" think about her.

    December 3, 2007 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  9. Mike

    Once again people don't want to hear the truth about Hillary.I guess only when she admits she's a failure would you people then belive.I must have been absent the day that they taught what qualifications were needed to have the expierence to be President.What state is President School in?
    If Hillary's campaign lacks conviction,then so does she or did you forget that she was in charge or maybe not.Maybe she lacks the expierence to run a campaign.Everyone who criticizes the Clinton's must be liars,because their always right as most of you think.That is except for those of us who have been paying attention for past 16 years.

    December 3, 2007 06:35 pm at 6:35 pm |
  10. Tapera, Toronto

    If you are going to vote for Hillary just because you donn't want the Republicans to win then you are letting your country down. Some pleple voted for Bush twice, not because he was the best but just because they wanted a republican to be the president. Look at where you are now.
    Vote for character not the party

    December 3, 2007 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  11. Patrick, New York,Ny

    why are Obama supporters filled with so much hate!! Anything that is pro Clinton is biased, but anything that is anti Clinton is okay and good....

    Look I am working like hell to make sure Hillary is the nominee..but if Obama wins I will work like hell to make sure he is President.
    Can Obama supporters pledge the same way to work for Clinton if she wins the nomination or is there too much hate?

    December 3, 2007 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Tim, El Cerrito Ca

    Yeah, talk about mudsling. Here goes the double standard again. It's OK for anyone to say ANYTHING about Hillary BUT if she defends herself and goes on the offensive that's not allowed. Give me a break! She's giving back and better all that was thrown at her. Obama supporters and all the other Hillary haters need to stop being hypocritcal! And I used to like Obama but he wore thin on me pretty fast, especially when he and Edwards went negative first! They let the Genie out of the bottle and now they are all whining because she's tuffer than them, boo hoo! Oh, and last night all the Obama people went on and on about how their internals must be bad only to have two new polls released today that show her ahead.

    December 3, 2007 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  13. Jerry, Adams Center, NY

    I think Hillary has made several convictions to what she will change and lead America back on the right track. I don't get you Reich, make more out of what you are trying to get across.

    December 3, 2007 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  14. Bruce, Berkeley, CA

    It's silly to expect a candidate to have a hard and fast position at this point in the campaign. All of these proposals are just fantasy at this point. They have no bearing on what will happen when a person becomes president because then theywill face a whole new set of realities. Obama's proposals are just posturing. Hillary has been through the most intense situation possible and has been attacked from all sides, left, right and center, yet she still had the guts to carry on with dignity. That is what it takes to be president, not some pipe dream proposal. No pun intended.

    December 3, 2007 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  15. Ken, San Diego, CA

    This is an unfair statement by Reich. Clinton has taken a strong stand on health care and a national mandate (which is politically dangerous), she has taken a stand on Iran and the Revolutionary Guard (another politically dangerous stand, especially with the Democratic base), she has made a stand with Social Security (Reich might not agree with it, but it's a stand nevertheless: fix the fiscal problem first, then address any problems that may remain), she has taken a stand on women's rights, on workers rights, on lobbyests (another dangerous stand), etc., etc. Reich makes a statement about Obama's history of courage and character. If he could tell us this history (if Barack can) I'm happy to listen. Certainly, Barack did good work as a local activist, but so did Hillary. Let's not confuse political acumen with lack of conviction. It's not a fair assessment of Hillary Clinton or what she has done during her public career.

    December 3, 2007 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. framecop, Raleigh, NC

    Barack Obama has ZERO chance of winning a General Election in 2008.

    99% of blacks know you?

    December 3, 2007 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  17. Robert M. Reidy N.Y.

    Once again the law of attraction kicks in and Barak Obama attracts the best and the brightest. I can't wait to see the Obama cabinet. I think it will surpass that of JFK. It will be a creative brain trust.

    I always liked Robert Reich, he is a brilliant and authentic man who thinks
    country over politics.

    Another first class and powerful endorsement!

    December 3, 2007 07:21 pm at 7:21 pm |
  18. Gabe Miloni, Rochester, New York

    Sounds like this guy has an ax to grind! Too bad. I hope few voters are influenced by this distotion, if HRC is not the Democratic nominee, the GOP is sure to win in 2008. That would be catastrophic for everyone.

    December 3, 2007 07:25 pm at 7:25 pm |
  19. Borat Hussein Osama, chicago, IL

    Reich calls Clinton "my old friend"?

    With friend like that, who needs an enemy?

    Reich is a nobody, a loser, that obama appear to associate with a lot.

    NObama 08.

    December 3, 2007 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  20. mary black, rochester hills, mi

    Did Hillary Clinton stage the terrorist attack on her own office in order to look presidential? Does she know that moderate Republican women are
    are beginning to take a serious look at
    Barak Obama?

    December 3, 2007 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  21. VN, Sugar Land, Texas

    Now let's see....Mr. Reich, a member of Bill Clinton's original cabinet, and a special advisor, Dick Morris, have admitted to 1) dating Hillary, and 2) fantasizing about having an affair with her...Neither can find anything complimentary to say about her, but readily trash her candidacy for president. Me thinks the gender in that old saw about nothing being worse than a "woman" scorned, should be changed immediately in favor of these two.

    December 3, 2007 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  22. Markie Bee, Sacramento, Calif.

    How can Lincoln with just a few years as an Illinois congressman qualify for president? Compare him to Stephen Douglas with decades of experience. As far as I am concerned If Rep. Lincoln wins the Republican nomination I might have to vote for the Whig party candidate for the 1st time in 50 years. Lincoln is just not ready.
    Posted By Milton Dropkin, Boynton Beach, fl 33472 : December 3, 1859 4:17 pm

    December 3, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  23. Corey, Bloomington IN

    Obama's not electable?? Wow. I don't think Hillary could get over 300 Republicans from Iowa and New Hampshire to SWITCH PARTIES so they could support her in the primaries. Obama can. Hillary can't say she never supported the war in Iraq. Obama can. Hillary can't say that her health care plan isn't socialized medicine. Obama can. Don't believe the hype, Hillary is every Republican's dream candidate. Even if she won, she'd be a 1 term lame duck.

    December 3, 2007 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  24. Markie Bee, Sacramento, Calif.

    Hey, I see Monte Brown is back...did you do your homework Monte? You know, the challenge I issued to you last week listing Hillary's experience and substantive senate bills that she has AUTHORED? I don't see it anywhere. I'm still waiting. Don't worry about the word count. I don't think your list will be more than 25 words. And for the record, Obama has said he intends to raise the cap from $97,500. That sounds like plan to me. What's Hillary's plan? Oh yeah, from a commission. Great plan Hillary. How many Wall Street paper lions will be on that commission advocating for private accounts? Get to work Monte.

    December 3, 2007 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |

    Reich, you appear very funny.
    What do you consistent on Obama? We all witnessed the last debate where he after all supported licesensing illegal aliens, a crime he accused Hillary.
    You and Obama won't fly anywhere.

    December 3, 2007 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
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