Obama adviser John Podesta today apologized for comparing House Republicans to the Jonestown cult led by Jim Jones. The Washington Post’s Web site reports: Podesta made the remark in an article in Politico Magazine , saying that the Obama administration should focus on using executive action because it is “facing a second term against a cult worthy of Jonestown in charge of one of the houses of Congress.” Although Podesta was speaking this fall before being hired by the White House, he quickly apologized to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) through a post on his Twitter account.
The Post and other media outlets didn’t note that “Reverend” Jim Jones, founder of the San Francisco People’s Temple, in truth numbered Democratic politicians, not Republicans, among his admirers.
San Francisco Mayor George Moscone appointed him to the city’s housing authority. Willie Brown, who later served as Speaker of the California Assembly, in a 1976 introduction compared Jones to Martin Luther King, Angela Davis, Albert Einstein and Chairman Mao, according to one observer.
That same year Senator Walter Mondale, later elected vice president, invited Jones to meet with him on his campaign plane. The People’s Temple chief also had a personal meeting with Jimmy Carter’s wife, Rosalynn.
When Jones moved his operation to Guyana, he brought with him written accolades from liberal Democrats.
Wrote Walter Mondale: “Knowing of your congregation’s deep involvement in the major social and constitutional issues of our country is a great inspiration to me.”
Alaska Senator Mike Gravel thought the People’s Temple “was almost too good to be true.” California Congressman Don Edwards expressed the wish that “there were more like the people of the People’s Temple Christian Church.”
Joseph Califano, an official in the Kennedy and Johnson administrations and secretary of health, education and welfare for Jimmy Carter wrote Jones: “Knowing your commitment and compassion, your interest in protecting individual liberty and freedom have made an outstanding contribution to furthering the cause of human dignity.”
Former Vice President Hubert Humphrey said that Jones’ work “is testimony to the positive and truly Christian approach to dealing with the myriad problems confronting our society today.”
So comparing House Republicans to Jones’s cult was particularly shameless, given his Democratic connections. The media could have pointed that out, but of course chose not to. They’ve consumed their own kind of grape punch.