John Podesta, who last week was named as a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, apologized Wednesday morning after being quoted as comparing House Republicans to cult followers of Jim Jones.
In an interview earlier this fall — part of which was published in a lengthy Politico Magazine profile — Podesta said that Obama and his advisers should look to work around Congress for the rest of his second term. He suggested that Congress was uncooperative — and then compared the House to members of the cult that committed mass suicide in 1978.
“They should 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,” Podesta said.
House Speaker John Boehner’s office quickly ripped the comments.
“For those who’ve forgotten, a Democratic member of Congress was murdered in Jonestown and a current one, Rep. Jackie Speier, was shot five times during the same incident,” Boehner spokesman Brendan Buck said in a statement.
“If this is the attitude of the new White House, it’s hard to see how the president gets anything done again.”
Later Wednesday morning, Podesta apologized on Twitter:
In an old interview, my snark got in front of my judgment. I apologise to Speaker Boehner, whom I have always respected.
— John Podesta (@johnpodesta) December 18, 2013
This is not the first time a White House aide has been criticised for a colourful metaphor about House Republicans. In October, in the midst of the last debt-ceiling fight, White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer compared Republicans to terrorists, arsonists, and kidnappers.
“What we’re not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest,” Pfeiffer said then on CNN.
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