Clintons' Robert Reich Endorses Obama

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Robert Reich was Bill Clinton's first Secretary of Labor and a friend of both the former president and his wife for four decades.  (His wife, Claire Dalton, was my Torts professor in law school, and a renowned legal mind for women in her own right.)  Today, Reich formally to declared his support for Obama on his blog.  He says that, in spite of his long personal and professional relationship with the Clintons, "my conscience won't let me be silent any longer.  I believe that Barack Obama should be elected President of the United States."

John Heilemann of New York Magazine, who spoke today with Reich about his decision, says:

For some time, it's been clear to anyone paying attention that Reich favors Obama. Back in December, in a blog post titled "Why is HRC Stooping So Low?," Reich loudly and sharply criticized Clinton's conduct in Iowa and defended Obama's proposals for health-care and Social Security reform. Two days before the race-charged South Carolina primary, he assailed Bill Clinton's "ill-tempered and ill-founded attacks" on Obama, arguing that they were "doing no credit to the former president, his legacy, or his wife's campaign." And all throughout the primary season, he has spoken and written of Obama's candidacy with evident admiration and enthusiasm.  NYMag
But all of that wasn't enough to get Reich to publicly disavow the Clintons who made him a cabinet secretary.

So what's changed? I asked Reich.

 

"I saw the ads" -- the negative man-on-street commercials that the Clinton campaign put up in Pennsylvania in the wake of Obama's bitter/cling comments a week ago -- "and I was appalled, frankly. I thought it represented the nadir of mean-spirited, negative politics. And also of the politics of distraction, of gotcha politics. It's the worst of all worlds.

We have three terrible traditions that we've developed in American campaigns. One is outright meanness and negativity. The second is taking out of context something your opponent said, maybe inartfully, and blowing it up into something your opponent doesn't possibly believe and doesn't possibly represent. And third is a kind of tradition of distraction, of getting off the big subject with sideshows that have nothing to do with what matters.

And these three aspects of the old politics I've seen growing in Hillary's campaign. And I've come to the point, after seeing those ads, where I can't in good conscience not say out loud what I believe about who should be president.

Those ads are nothing but Republicanism. They're lending legitimacy to a Republican message that's wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past twenty years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It's old politics at its worst -- and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It's just so deeply cynical." NYMag 

Reich echoes something I and many other Democrats have been asking for a long time:  'What's the strategic logic behind Hillary's losing campaign at this point?'  Heilemann offers his assessment, particularly after his conversation today with Reich:
[B]eyond the bald fact of Reich's support for Obama, the Clinton campaign should pay heed to the reasoning behind it. In his disgust with Hillary's increasingly harsh tactics, Reich is hardly alone. Indeed, the feeling seems to be spreading more broadly in the party with every passing day. It's been clear for some time that Hillary's attacks on Obama were driving up her negatives.

You could certainly argue this might be a price worth paying if those attacks were amping up doubts about him. But it's hard to see any logic -- or even sanity -- in the tactic if the result is to drive even people who once regarded Hillary dearly into Obama's arms. NYMag

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Clinton Labor Secretary to Endorse

Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton will formally endorse Democratic frontrunner Barack Obama on his blog today at around 1:00 PM (EST).

Reich insists that the endorsement does indeed come as a surprise -- to him. As we chatted in Washington, where Reich had come from Berkeley, where he teaches, to give a speech and meet with some Democrats on Capitol Hill, he explained that, despite the criticisms he's made of the Clintons ("I call it as I see it"), he had planned to refrain from offering an official backing for Obama out of respect for Hillary. "She's an old friend," Reich said, "I've known her 40 years. I was absolutely dead set against getting into the whole endorsement thing. I've struggled with it. I've not wanted to do it. Out of loyalty to her, I just felt it would be inappropriate."

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The Big Tent option misses Robert Reich

Well, add another of those Obama supporters who think that Clinton has become a Republican. Robert Reich:

...I've come to the point, after seeing those ads, where I can't in good conscience not say out loud what I believe about who should be president. Those ads are nothing but Republicanism. They're lending legitimacy to a Republican message that's wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past 20 years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It's old politics at its worst -- and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It's just so deeply cynical."
So, another confirmation of the whole new front that (some) Obama supporters have opened up on Clinton. I guess they would couch it as saying 'she's running like a Republican' or some other bracketed offense, but the gist is the same. Yes, you could argue that the accusation is 'in tactic only' but since Reich didn't bother to add that distinction, that's a waste of hope. Besides, he'd still be wrong.

The "ads" are the negative on-street commercials that Clinton ran about 'bitter and cling' against Obama. He's basically saying that Democrats who use certain tough techniques against each other, because they offend people like himself, are emulating Republicans. So the bar has been set such that certain campaign techniques against Democrats are reserved only for Republicans.

As a political operative, it blows my mind that people like Reich are now trying to define tactics as being either Republican or Democrat. And worse, that the measure is whether it offends the style of people like Reich. This kind of advice that leads to the wilderness.

This notion that Clinton, or her campaign, meets the criteria of Republicanism, in its battle against Obama, is by far the worst development of the nomination battle. Reich is being irresponsible, and my friend Markos should know better than to encourage this trend.

What both Obama and Clinton have been doing for the Democratic Party this nomination battle has been historical and will have long-term benefits. They are defining the new Democratic majority. Obama is bringing in masses of the millennial youth. He'll need to show leadership over the coming years to keep them with us. Read that book I've been talking about, Millennial Makeover, to realize how this becomes a powerful political force.  Clinton, I told all my Texas friends, would be the long hoped for candidate that rallies the Latino voters, as she's done throughout the country, to vote Democratic in higher numbers than ever before. Consider the amount of people-powered donors that Obama has now. He literally has the power to send a million dollars to any Democratic candidate through his supporter list. Consider the gender gap that Clinton has created with women voting in higher numbers than men, and how powerful that will be for Democrats.

Neither of these two candidates were my first choice for 2008, but whichever wins the nomination will get my vote-- it's not even a question in my mind. I have thought that Clinton has a better shot as winning than the untested Obama. But so what, if Obama gets the nomination, I hope he still wins. And if Clinton manages to pull it out, Obama supporters should do likewise.

I just don't get the nonsense that happens within the Democratic Party, in dividing against the other. Progressive, Conservative, Liberal, DFA, DLC, on and on... Whatever way they want to think of themselves as a Democrat, and vote that way, is fine with me. Go read through Crashing The Gate, and you'll not find the claim that certain parts of the party are not Democrats, but instead you'll find it calls for a broadening of the party to cast aside techniques that lead us to lose while adopting those that help progressive win. We use the tactics that lead us to win.

I do care about the issues. That's why we have primaries, to challenge folks like Wynn in MD and Boswell in IA, to make the party agenda more progressive. I get calling someone a DINO because they vote Republican, or tear down the Democratic brand, but that's hardly the case with the two centrist-voting Democrats we have left that are both partisans. But you don't call another Democratic candidate a Republican just of the campaign tactics they are using. Jonathan, that's the real 'line' thats being crossed.

Look, if Obama can win by taking the high road, more power to him, but if Clinton wins by taking the hard road, then more power to her. But be honest, Obama would use whatever technique it takes to win this nomination, so would Clinton. Please spare us the fake outrage over party credentials. Its a loser.

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Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich to endorse Obama

Robert Reich, who served as Bill Clinton's Secretary of Labor from 1993 to 1997 told New York Magazine he will endorse Barack Obama for president on his blog. A longtime friend of Bill and Hillary Clinton, Reich says that he changed his mind about "getting into the whole endorsement thing" after seeing the negative advertisements that the Clinton campaign ran in Pennsylvania.
I've come to the point, after seeing those ads, where I can't in good conscience not say out loud what I believe about who should be president. Those ads are nothing but Republicanism. They're lending legitimacy to a Republican message that's wrong to begin with, and they harken back to the past 20 years of demagoguery on guns and religion. It's old politics at its worst -- and old Republican politics, not even old Democratic politics. It's just so deeply cynical.

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"Why is HRC stooping So low?"

Not my words but those of Robert Reich, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of Labor, who refers to Hillary as his old friend. I have to agree with this piece copy pasted below (forgive me if my formatting is off) he wrote for his blog. Saying things like "Now the fun begins.." about attacking Obama is very poor form besides being counterproductive. I take note that Reich's assesment is that Obama's plan would insure more people, that Hillary is kicking the Social Security issue to a comission, and questions Hillary's resorting to attacking the courage of Obama of all people.

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