At a campaign rally in Sarasota, presidential candidate Michele Bachmann made a joke about how God can’t even get Washington D.C.’s attention with earthquakes and hurricanes. As reported by Reuters:
For Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann, Hurricane Irene and last week’s earthquake in the eastern United States were a message from God that Washington needs to change its policies.
Even as Irene was beginning its raking course up the East Coast over the weekend, which killed 21 people and caused widespread flooding and power outages, Bachmann told senior citizens in Poinciana, Florida, on Saturday that the hurricane was an “act of God” that Washington should heed.
The Minnesota congresswoman, who has gained media prominence for her fiery attacks on Democratic President Barack Obama and against big government, recalled Washington and the east had already felt a 5.8 magnitude earthquake on Tuesday.
“Washington, D.C., you’d think by now they’d get the message. An earthquake, a hurricane. Are you listening? The American people have done everything they can, and now it’s time for an act of God and we’re getting it,” she said, drawing some laughs from her audience.
“Drawing some laughs from her audience?” What sort of laughs, Reuters? Uncomfortable titters from an audience that just realized one of the front-running 2012 presidential candidates is a religious fanatic who thinks God is sending storms and quakes to punish the District of Sodom and Gomorrah?
That’s exactly how some are trying to spin it. Check out this write-up at the Huffington Post:
Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told Floridians Sunday that Hurricane Irene and the earthquake felt along much of the East Coast last week were messages from God to warn “politicians” to start heeding divine guidance, which she suggested is being channeled through small government conservatives.
“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians. We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?'” Bachmann, a third-term Minnesota representative, told a crowd in Sarasota that the St. Petersburg Times estimated contained around 1,000 people.
“Listen to the American people, because the American people are roaring right now,” Bachmann continued. “They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”
Her comments appear to link God’s will with those who believe the U.S. government is too large and intrudes too much on people’s lives. A Bachmann spokeswoman has not responded to a request for clarification of the congresswoman’s comments.
Maybe that’s because there’s no reason to respond to a lazy slander machine like the Huffington Post. Here’s a bit of readily available video from CNN, showing Bachmann reading out that divine earthquake-and-hurricane subpoena from the Almighty to the Allbankrupt:
She is, very obviously, making a joke. There’s nothing ambiguous about it.
The L.A. Times put a similar spin on the story:
It seems that every time there is a natural disaster like an earthquake or a hurricane, someone stands up to say it is a sign that God is unhappy with some human foible.
With the East Coast still reeling from last week’s earthquake and Irene’s deadly path, the latest to invoke God’s wrath is GOP presidential contender Rep. Michele Bachmann.
The L.A. Times does get around to acknowledging the above video, and unlike the Huffington Post, they were able to get the Bachmann campaign to return their calls:
In the video broadcast on the morning television shows on Monday, Bachmann, who has been castigated in the past for what some have perceived as gaffes, can be seen smiling.
“Of course she was saying it in jest,” Alice Stewart, spokeswoman for Bachmann’s campaign, said in a statement sent to some media outlets.
But this concession to obvious reality comes five paragraphs into the story, and the Times immediately resumes the crazy-religious-nutjob narrative… almost as if the comment from Bachmann’s spokeswoman was shoved into the story as an afterthought, right before it went to press:
Giving natural phenomena a political spin has a long and established history. In recent years, it hasn’t been unusual for conservative evangelists, part of Bachmann’s core constituency, to cite such events as God’s punishment for human political failings.
For example Pat Robertson invoked last week’s earthquake that cracked the Washington Monument as a symbol of God’s displeasure with the United States, which the minister argues has moved away from God’s path.
Pastor John Hagee embarrassed then-Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain of Arizona by saying that Hurricane Katrina was God’s vengeance on New Orleans for hosting a gay pride parade. McCain promptly rejected the comparison.
So… forget that Bachmann was clearly kidding, and chew on these anecdotes about people completely unrelated to her invoking natural disasters as signs of divine wrath. This is guilt by association raised to a quantum level, thinly justified on the grounds that these prophets of doom and their followers have been officially classified by media zoologists as “part of Bachmann’s core constituency” – a standard they would absolutely never accept for linking a prominent Democrat like Barack Obama to the leftist fringe.
Now, you can certainly argue that Bachmann made a bad joke. People died in Hurricane Irene, even though it was far less devastating than early projections indicated. However, attempting to spin this as anything but a clumsy jest is profoundly dishonest.