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. Jan Charleston, SC

    I am so glad to see this. I don't trust Hillary at all. My friend said she was going to vote for a woman because it was time. I say the wrong woman like HRC (or is HC or HR or HCR?) is even worse. Watch what happens in Iowa and PAY ATTENTION to Joe Biden. He makes Hillary and Barack look like they are in kindergarten.

    December 3, 2007 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  2. zatavu

    Are there any people from the former Clinton White House in favor of Hillary? What should this tell you?

    December 3, 2007 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  3. george thomas,dalton,ga

    Honestly,John Edwards seems more Presidential than all the others on the potam,I personally don't think Mrs clinton ,or the US is ready for this lady.

    December 3, 2007 09:04 pm at 9:04 pm |
  4. Howard Roark

    This is the beginning of Hillary's downfall–questioning Obama's integrity, when she herself has proven to be an exceptionally gifted liar. She's a big phony, playing to the middle, trying to obscure her socialist nature.

    December 3, 2007 09:05 pm at 9:05 pm |
  5. jenny, paxton MA

    michael sheridan of grand rapids, MI,
    i agree with you on on hillary. it must be next to impossible to keep faith in people after what she had to endure as a political figure. any meaningful change will come only when we have a long-term grass roots movement, not through elections and campaigns.

    December 3, 2007 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    To Michael Sheridan–Your post was one of the most intelligent, well said comments that I have read in a while. when will the U.S.ever be ready for someone different than what this country has previously had if we never nominate someone else. If you are always afraid you are wasting your vote because the country isnt "ready"...then it will never happen....GOOD POST!!!!

    December 3, 2007 09:13 pm at 9:13 pm |
  7. Kim C. NYC

    Reich is more than a pundit, more than a friend he is a professor of public policy in the nation's leading institution, CAL Berkeley. Reich is telling the truth, no more no less. And the truth doesn't paint the Clintons in a positive light AT ALL. We still need the truth as voters of these United States and especially so as we enter the political voting next month. May the best candidate succeed.

    December 3, 2007 09:19 pm at 9:19 pm |
  8. saul, austin, tx

    HRC clearly made a decision that the certainty of mediocrity is preferable to the possibility of greatness. It turns my stomach - she (and Romney) represent all that is wrong with our political system today. Even though the mere sight of George W. Bush makes me gag, I'd probably vote for him again than Hillary. At least he has the excuse of being an idiot - HRC knows exactly what she is doing, she is deliberately two-faced. It is intolerably cynical of her and a tragic sellout of who she could have been.

    December 3, 2007 09:36 pm at 9:36 pm |
  9. Charles in Salt Lake City, UT

    Here is a man in a position to know what he's talking about. Anyone still undecided should pay close attention.

    Hillary is a divider, not a healer.

    December 3, 2007 10:07 pm at 10:07 pm |
  10. dadash rohester NY

    I really like all the Democrats, so I hope one of them will win.
    But you are right about Hillary. Since 1993 when she presented Healthcare, all she could come up with is to COPY MITT ROMNEY' s idea and she keeps criticizing OBAMA's

    December 3, 2007 10:15 pm at 10:15 pm |
  11. Truth Seeker DC

    in a couple of weeks it will be Hillary who?

    December 3, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  12. GUTS

    First of all, I can't trust this "dated Hillary Clinton while in college" guy, whatever he say.

    Second, he help Obama maybe because he received something from him, what fund ?

    Hillary said many times, she is the one running for president, not Bill Clinton. He may worked for him, but it was then, not now. During those years, politians follow wind, who know what caused him change his heart, Big deal.

    I vote for Hillary. No changing mind.

    December 3, 2007 10:28 pm at 10:28 pm |
  13. Robert Austin, Texas

    This little midget probably got one of his fat little toes stepped on during the Clinton administation and now he's taking revenge. He's so shallow!

    December 3, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  14. Russell, NC

    Mr. Reich told it like it is.

    December 3, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  15. Mark, TX

    "If someone who worked really closely with Obama had a lot of negative things to say about him, it might be newsworthy too.
    Posted By Keith, Chicago : December 3, 2007 4:51 pm"

    The problem is that nobody worked really closely to Obama because Obama hasn't done much work! Easy to claim you did no mistakes when you did nothing.

    December 3, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  16. bbln

    Robert Reich is about as much of an "old friend" as Dick Morris, former Clinton campaign manager, who appears almost weekly on some Fox News show to slash and burn the Clintons.

    December 3, 2007 10:52 pm at 10:52 pm |
  17. Makena, Louisville, KY

    man – these people will stop at nothing to shove Obama down our throats. Not this Democrat – I will not support Obama, he is a novice and more than that he is the media darling getting a free pass – that is god forbid he gets the nomination and then gets killed in the general. This guy is an empty suit blowing hope up your skirt.

    December 3, 2007 10:55 pm at 10:55 pm |
  18. Shupikai, Jersey City, NJ

    Hillary has shown from the start that she will do anything to win office. Does that scare just me? When I listen to Obama and the one thing that i admire is his authenticity. Go Obama!
    PS. I'm a black woman and I think if America can embrace Tiger Woods, Williams Sisters, Oprah, Will Smith... America's ready for Obama.

    December 3, 2007 11:05 pm at 11:05 pm |
  19. evan, nyc, ny

    You know what i want to tell every person who says to me that Obama lacks the experience?
    Id like to tell them
    Lincoln- 2 years HOR, 8 yrs State Senate
    Wilson- Gov. NJ 2 years
    FDR- Gov. NY 4 years,Assistant Secretary of the Navy
    Reagan- No National Experience
    Bill Clinton- No National Experience

    People who think she is more electable than him are insane!! Her unfavorables are ridiculously high. Even if she does get elected, do you want the same divisive government that has led to no oversight and general deterioration of our standing in the world BC that is what will happen with a Clinton presidency.

    December 3, 2007 11:10 pm at 11:10 pm |
  20. Maria

    Great courage Mr Reich.

    December 3, 2007 11:19 pm at 11:19 pm |
  21. Richard, Portland, OR

    Robert Reich hungers for attention. The highlight of his life was being Sec of Labor. According to the Wikipedia article about him, Reich had "moderate success," but after Clinton won a second term, he left the department to "spend more time with his sons..." It sounds like he was nudged out. Spending more time with family is the usual excuse offered when someone is pushed out.

    Reich's high tone moralizing and holier-than-though attitude reminds me of Joe Lieberman. This is his way to strike back at the Clintons.

    Reich craves attention but he has not been in the center of attention for years. He will not return to fame in Hillary Clinton's administration. Rather, he now sees an opportunity to gain Barack Obama's appreciative attention, and, perhaps a prestigious position in an Obama administration. All he needs to do is slam his "old friend."

    For Reich to accuse Clinton of flinging "a series of slurs" at Obama shows him as a hypocrite. While gushing about Obama as a man of "courage and character," he simultaneously charges that Clinton is "singularly lacking in conviction about anything." Reich also claims that Clinton is "irresponsible" on Social Security. Aren't these claims "slurs" themselves?

    Reich is angry at the C

    December 3, 2007 11:26 pm at 11:26 pm |
  22. hillary shouldn't be president

    Hillary is the absolute worst kind of politician. She touts "35 years of experience" when she has only served as Senator since 2001 and was merely a First Lady before that.

    Not to mention she will say exactly what you want to hear, and if she can't weasel her way into everyone's graces then she will do whatever possible to divert attention on how bad the Republicans are.

    Hillary supporters need to realize what kind of a person she is. It's not about a woman running for president, it's about someone with integrity.

    December 3, 2007 11:32 pm at 11:32 pm |
  23. Marjorie, Chicago IL

    Why is this a story? A former member of the Clinton administration, now an avid Barack Obama supporter, said some stuff about Hillary Clinton on his blog, and all the details of it are in a story on CNN. It is not news that an Obama supporter would say such things about Senator Clinton. Why is this newsworthy material?

    December 4, 2007 12:03 am at 12:03 am |
  24. Kelly, Indianapolis, IN

    Reflecting on the last seven years, I think it is nearly impossible that another Republican could win the White House – Unless... we nominate HRC. Nothing will rally the troops of the Republicans like Hillary and Bill.

    For all those concerned that a black man can not be elected, what a better way to test our progress as a country when people are faced with a chance to elect the first black president. Do we really think people will cite color as their barrier? I certainly hope not. It truly is time we turned the page!

    I hope I'm representative of most of my generation when I say I see color and sex as a non-issue other than life experience and perspective of the candidates.

    December 4, 2007 12:06 am at 12:06 am |
  25. Jose Card

    I totally agree with "Clinton lacks conviction about anything".

    Senator Clinton just doesn't have it.
    No matter how you look and how she presents herself, she just doesn't cut it. She is neither qualified nor electable.

    Prof. Reich must know Democrats will lose if Hillary were to be nominated.

    Why won't Bill release the WH documents to save her race? My guess is that he must know the documents will only fail her.

    December 4, 2007 12:19 am at 12:19 am |
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