All the Reich moves
BY SETH GITELL
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2002 — Now that Robert Reich is running for governor of Massachusetts, not everything the former secretary of labor wrote in his 1997 memoir Locked in the Cabinet is helpful to him.
Consider the following passage describing a February 2, 1995, meeting with congressional Democrats attended by Representative Barney Frank of Newton. " ‘Mr. Secretary!’ yells Barney Frank of Massachusetts," wrote Reich on page 234. "Barney’s political views lie to the left of the rest of the Massachusetts delegation, which puts him in the Twilight Zone." Reich went on to describe Frank’s voice in unflattering terms. "Barney normally speaks in a nasal yell. Today his volume is higher than usual."
In an interview with the Phoenix, Reich described himself as being "to the left of the party," but he didn’t mention whether he considered himself as being in the Twilight Zone. In his book’s characterization of Frank, in other words, Reich took a page out of the book of Democratic pollster, Dick Morris, who masterminded President Bill Clinton’s politics of triangulation — more to the left than the Republicans, more to the right than the Democrats — and whom Reich generally reviles.
Today, Reich, who hopes that Frank will endorse him, chalks the passage up to a failed attempt at humor. "At the time I wrote it, I thought it was funnier than when I read it," says Reich, adding that he subsequently apologized to Frank. Reich insists that he wasn’t trying to "triangulate" in Morris-Clinton fashion. ""I was not trying to position myself in any way," he says.
As for Frank, Reich now has only nice things to say. "He’s one of my heroes and he’s a terrific legislator. I certainly did not mean in any way to be disrespectful."
Issue Date: February 7, 2002
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