Robert Reich Calls Bill Clinton to Account

Some months ago after reading Reich's latest book Supercapitalism and his earlier, Locked in the Cabinet I was particularly impressed by his integrity. His account of the Bill Clinton's efforts to curry approval from the Republicans during his presidency by dumping all of the committments that he made before being elected to office was particularly chilling. At that time I asked him if we might post his commentary from his blog and he agreed. I believe his views on the eve of the South Carolina Democratic Party should get the widest audience possible. Here is what he has written in full.

Robert Reich was the nation's 22nd Secretary of Labor, serving under Bill Clinton. He is presently a professor at the University of California at Berkeley. This is from his personal journal.Taken from Robert Reich's Blog

Bill Clinton's Old Politics

I write this more out of sadness than anger. Bill Clinton’s ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks on Barack Obama are doing no credit to the former President, his legacy, or his wife’s campaign. Nor are they helping the Democratic party. 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. Meanwhile, the attack ads being run in South Carolina by the Clinton camp which quote Obama as saying Republicans had all the ideas under Reagan, is disingenuous. For years, Bill Clinton and many other leading Democrats have made precisely the same point – that starting in the Reagan administration, Republicans put forth a range of new ideas while the Democrats sat on their hands. Many of these ideas were wrong-headed and dangerous, such as supply-side economics. But for too long Democrats failed counter with new ideas of their own; they wrongly assumed that the old Democratic positions and visions would be enough. Clinton’s 1992 campaign – indeed, the entire “New Democratic” message of the 1990s – was premised on the importance of taking back the initiative from the Republicans and offering Americans a new set of ideas and principles. Now, sadly, we’re witnessing a smear campaign against Obama that employs some of the worst aspects of the old politics.

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It is now becoming a cliche for stupid sniping, "Clinton/Obama."

It doesn't even really matter whose fault it is, who started it--but a former president should not be stooping to this.

I appear to have posted twice.


Bill Clinton might do well to learn from his "buddy" about being presidential. Granted the present occupant of the WH is H.W.'s son not his wife (a strange thought really--how would Barbara have done?) he has been appropriately reticient about any agreements or disagreements with his son's policies. Certainly he has not weighed in fists swinging anytime any one criticized George W. and he did not seek to play the killer-dog role during the 2004 campaign.


One sign that people are taking Edwards more seriously are news articles accusing him of playing up his southern accent in South Carolina (as opposed to the usual press blackout of his campaign). But the real truth is that he seems right on target on a number of issues. For example his immediate response to the so-called stimulus package was its failure to provide for stimulating the economy by extending unemployment insurance benefits, increasing food-stamp allowances that were cut by the Bush Administration, and by raising the minimum wage.

It is shocking to me that not only are none of these in the bi-partisan bill but the retired elderly who are hit hard by rising fuel and food costs are also left out of the stimulus package.

The Edwards campaign is also revving up a campaign to call Senators urging them not to give retroactive immunity on wire tapping.

To me he shows signs of becoming a serious, long-term leader of the progressive movement whether or not he wins the election.

The following analysis Could Tight Election Races in Both Parties Lead to Brokered Conventions? by Matt Stearns, sees possibilities for his playing a king maker role at a brokered convention. If we look at the line up of noteworthy Dems like Reich who have spoken out against Clinton's antics, this could indicate that the 796 "super-delegates," could combine their vote with however many delegates are committed to Edwards to decisively impact the convention.