Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) addresses supporters during a Sunday… (Brian Blanco / European…)
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.
At a campaign rally on Sunday in Sarasota, Fla., Bachmann took note of last week’s magnitude 5.8 quake that rocked the Washington area and whose effects were felt beyond New York City. She also cited Irene, which hit the United States as a Category 1 hurricane before traveling up the East Coast to Canada, leaving an estimated billions of dollars in damages and almost two dozen reported deaths.
“I don't know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,” Bachmann said to supporters. “We've had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, 'Are you going to start listening to me here? Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we've got to rein in the spending.' ”
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.
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.