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Friend of Bill Goes Off on Bill

By Peter Baker
Robert Reich was a longtime friend of the Clintons long before he joined the Cabinet in 1993 as labor secretary. But now he's laying into his old friend, Bill Clinton, for his performance on the campaign trail and attacks on Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.).

In a blog posting yesterday titled "Bill Clinton's Old Politics," Reich called Clinton's assault on Obama "disingenuous" and a "smear campaign" unworthy of a former president. "While it may be that all is fair in love, war, and politics, it's not fair -- indeed, it's demeaning -- for a former President to say things that are patently untrue (such as Obama's anti-war position is a 'fairy tale') or to insinuate that Obama is injecting race into the race when the former President is himself doing it," Reich wrote.

Reich left office somewhat disenchanted because Clinton, once he entered the White House, chose to emphasize the deficit reduction policies favored by Alan Greenspan, Lloyd Bentsen and Robert Rubin over the more progressive promises he had outlined on the campaign trail and that Reich preferred. His memoir, "Locked in the Cabinet," was a revealing look into the internal battles of Clinton's first term.

By Web Politics Editor  |  January 25, 2008; 11:17 AM ET
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I have long been an admirer of secretary Reich for his achievements : his physical characteristics are inherited
and should not be fodder for fools and I pity mark d (does this 'd' stand for dummy) and he should be ignored. for the truly pathetic this negative attention he gleans from this site is probably better than no attention all; how sad.

Posted by: jganymede | January 26, 2008 6:37 PM | Report abuse

If you're feeling furious about the total lack of decency by the Clintons, you can do what I did, which is to call all three campaigns to let them know that, as a die-hard liberal, I won't support Hillary Clinton in the general election under any circumstances. There's just been no decency in the way the Clintons have been acting, and I can't go four more years without respecting my president.

Posted by: davestickler | January 25, 2008 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Darn, you are telling me that I shouldn't have voted for Obama then?

Posted by: JakeD | January 25, 2008 1:06 PM | Report abuse

It's the electability, stupid. Democrats, please pay attention: Hillary cannot win the general and that is the ONLY point worth putting out at this crucial moment of the primaries. Don't get distracted or side-tracked: put every other piece of info, scrappy fight, comment by surrogates, squabble, newspaper article, blog, story and propaganda-filled speech aside. Its not about race or gender or policies or change or experience. You only need to know ONE piece of information to make your decision: no candidate can win a general election that is not supported by half of her own party. Keep your eye on the 11/08 ball before it's too late. She is the only thing that will rally the struggling Republican Party. Tell every Democrat and Independent you know: a vote for Hillary is a vote for John McCain, HIS war in Iraq and an economy that will not recover for a very long time. Why does the DNC not recognize this? We are running out of time to put an end to the eight, and I now fear 12, years of negative and never-endingly bad mojo and the moment to do something about it is right now. So stop talking and go out and do something. One simple first step? Email The DNC and tell them how you feel about the way The Clintons are leading our party and running their campaign. . Pass it on.

Posted by: malarson2 | January 25, 2008 1:02 PM | Report abuse

P.S. to darkestcloud -- I will agree that "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds" -- Obama is the one claiming to be "consistent" on this, though, not me. I'm sure you'll let me know if you have any other questions : )

Posted by: JakeD | January 25, 2008 12:19 PM | Report abuse

FYI: the Clinton campaign is NOT my source -- no "bother" at all to explain myself, since I anticipate others like darkestcloud are lurking -- here's the context and my source:

". . . I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made. What I don't think was appropriate was the degree to which Congress gave the president a pass on this . . ." (Emphasis Added)

I continue to believe that "I don't know" is something less than "consistent" -- I think it's an honest question, not necessarily "racist" in nature -- as always YMMV.

Posted by: JakeD | January 25, 2008 12:16 PM | Report abuse


The difference between "consistency" and your view of consistency is vast. What you are saying Obama should have done is being stubborn. That is not consistency, and it has no place in discussions of policy. You have to be able to compromise. What Obama states is that, given the amount of information he had at the time, the case was not made, in his opinion, for going to war. But, as there was a large part of the case missing--the intelligence estimate--he had to say "I don't know" because he was not fully informed. I would say that is admirable, and hardly inconsistent. I think you're focusing too much on that one phrase, and while the context doesn't erase his statement--it's not meant to, it gives it depth.

Cutting funding, by the way, is something that is heartless, to say the least. Calling for impeachment is ridiculous. Also, given that the rhetoric of the time of that vote was largely fueled by Bush making divisive and (in my opinion) stupid and unproductive statements like "You either support our troops, or you don't" most elected officials came down on the side of supporting the troops but not the war. Which was Obama's stance on that, too, I believe (and many other Dems, including Clinton, if I'm not mistaken, but I am unsure as to the veracity of that).

IN any case, this is an unproductive discussion, as I find myself defending Obama for something that does not require a defense. The only person whose actions at this point demand some sort of explanation is Bill Clinton, who is harming Democratic Party unity. At least in my opinion.

Posted by: darkestcloud | January 25, 2008 12:15 PM | Report abuse

ok, i just read your other post, saying the context doesn't're obviously just being antagonistic. Don't bother replying to this or my prior post.

Posted by: julieds | January 25, 2008 12:07 PM | Report abuse


Are you so foolish that the Clinton campaign would be your source of information?

The point you made leaves out the part where in the SAME interview Obama said that in his opinion, the case for war had not been made. Obama has always been consistent- he has always opposed the war, and has always said that now that our soldiers are there, they have needed funding.

Posted by: julieds | January 25, 2008 12:05 PM | Report abuse


None of the "context" erases the FACT that Obama said "I don't know." That's just ONE piece of inconsistency though. If I were a United States Senator "against the war" I would do everything in my power to repeal said war's authorization, cut funding, bring the troops home, or (alternatively) get the President impeached / thrown out of office. Do you at least see the difference between my definition of "consistency" and Obama's?


No, are you?

Posted by: JakeD | January 25, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

Are you mentally retarded?
The full context of Sen. Obama's remarks have been explained to you in countless forums. Yet, you continue to ignore them. You're either being dishonest or purposefully obtuse. Either way, you should stop. You're embarrassing yourself.

Posted by: RyanMcC1 | January 25, 2008 11:56 AM | Report abuse

I've read many of your comments JakeD, and I have always refrained from responding, because they generally don't deserve a response.

But, in this instance, I'd have to say you're maligning what has happened and what Obama said. I am neither a supporter for Clinton or Obama, but I do support accuracy.

When Obama said he didn't know how he would have voted, he was referring to the fact that he did not have access to the National Intelligence Estimate. In that sense, it was the most reasonable answer that anyone could be expected to give, and, in addition, spoke well of him for not immediately adopting a pre-determined posture.

You would do well to read the articles you link thoroughly, as Obama's reasoning is clearly stated in the article you linked. If you had, you would see that Obama has been consistent in his viewpoint on the war. (Authorizing funding for the troops is not an issue of supporting the war, but supporting the troops, something that everyone by now should understand).

I hope that all this sniping passes and that the Dems can come together and support whoever gets the nomination, though with comments like yours, jakeD, that seems very unlikely.

Posted by: darkestcloud | January 25, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

For those of you who have forgotten who Robert Reich is, or occupy a higher air space that he does, Reich wrote a book about his disagreements with Clinton Locked in the Cabinet. In 2002, he ran for Governor of Massachusetts (Romney eventually won that race). Reich also published an associated campaign book, I'll Be Short.

Reich was the first Democratic candidate for a major political office (that I know of) to support same-sex marriage. He also pledged support for abortion rights and strongly condemned capital punishment. His campaign staff was largely made up of his Brandeis students.

In September 2005 he testified against John Roberts at his confirmation hearings for Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.

For more:

Posted by: JakeD | January 25, 2008 11:52 AM | Report abuse

Perhaps the Great Short One would benefit from the following thread:

Posted by: JakeD | January 25, 2008 11:44 AM | Report abuse

Secretary Reich:

Well, is it "fair" or "not fair"? Did Obama say "I don't know" when asked in 2004 whether he would have voted against Iraq war authorization? I thought that Bill Clinton had a GOOD POINT that Obama has not been consistent in his opposition to the Iraq war -- that was the "fairy tale" comment as I took it -- I am still not sure if he meant it as a general slam against Obama's campaign / race though.

Posted by: JakeD | January 25, 2008 11:37 AM | Report abuse

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