John Podesta, who is about to join the Obama administration as a top adviser, should fit right in. In an interview with Politico, Podesta stated that the White House “need[s] to focus on executive action given that they are facing a second term against a cult worthy of Jonestown in charge of one of the houses of Congress.”
Jonestown — an avowedly leftist enterprise — was where followers of James Jones committed mass suicide. It is also where a former member of Congress (Leo Ryan) was killed and a current member (Ryan’s aide Jackie Speier) was shot when they tried to find out what the cult was up to.
Podesta provided a weak and disingenuous apology, saying: “In an old interview, my snark got in front of my judgment. I apologize to Speaker Boehner, whom I have always respected.” The “old interview” occurred “earlier this fall,” according to Politico.
Podesta probably doesn’t view Boehner as a cult leader, a part for which the Speaker would be egregiously miscast. But this doesn’t mean that he rejects his comparison of House Republicans as a whole to a cult. At most, he regrets his lack of judgment in publicly making this declaration.
When Edward Bennett Williams owned the Baltimore Orioles, he reportedly called his ex-manager Joe Altobelli a “cement-head.” When asked to confirm the quote, Williams said it “is not inconsistent with my thinking.”
The same is true, I think, of Podesta’s quote. I’m afraid that the quote is also not inconsistent with President Obama’s thinking.