When faced with a massive natural disaster that killed at least 38 people, caused many billions of dollars in damage, and left countless people homeless or without power, it isn't always easy to know the right thing to say. Here, a look at six people (or companies) who may have grabbed the Hurricane Irene spotlight for all the wrong reasons:
1. Michele Bachmann
What she said: "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?'"
Reaction: "We are willing to give Bachmann the benefit of the doubt that this statement was said in jest," as her spokeswoman insists, says The Oklahoma Daily in an editorial. Even so, "sorry, but we don't get the joke." Many people have died, and joking about that being punishment from God is "disgraceful and disrespectful to those on the East Coast who have lost loved ones."
2. Rush Limbaugh
What he said: "I'll guarantee you Obama was hoping this was going to be a disaster as another excuse for his failing economy... If he's out there blaming tsunamis, if he's blaming earthquakes, and whatever natural disasters there are, this one was made to order, but it just didn't measure up."
Reaction: Well, Limbaugh is clearly still a "jolly radio idiot," says Jim Newell at Gawker. This doesn't even make sense. Even if "Obama would want lots of random death and destruction within his country if it left him in a better political position, it probably would not have left him in a better political position." Japan's catastrophic earthquake, Hurricane Katrina, the BP oil spill — they weren't exactly political winners for the people in charge.
3. Glenn Beck
What he said: "How many warnings do you think you're going to get, and how many warnings do you deserve? ... If you've waited [to prepare and stockpile food], this hurricane is a blessing. It is a blessing. It is God reminding you — as was the earthquake last week — it's God reminding you you're not in control. Things can happen."
Reaction: On its face, this sounds pretty bad, says Elizabeth Tenety in The Washington Post. But the noted Mormon covert "is actually touting one of the unique aspects of the Latter-day Saint faith: Food storage."
4. Ron Paul
What he said: FEMA's "system of bureaucratic centralized economic planning... is a policy that is deeply flawed... I want to transition us out of this dependency... The whole idea of FEMA is a gross distortion of insurance. It's so far removed from the market and what insurance should be about... There is no magic about FEMA."
Reaction: Denouncing FEMA on the eve of a major hurricane would be "nothing short of political suicide" for most politicians, says Alex Moore at Death + Taxes. And with reason: Along with basic law enforcement, most people consider post-hurricane disaster relief a core duty of the federal government.
5. Eric Cantor
What he said: "We will find the money if there is a need for additional monies [for FEMA disaster relief. But] those monies are not unlimited, and what we've always said is we offset that which has already been funded." (Translation: No disaster relief funds without equivalent spending cuts.)
Reaction: Boy, between Cantor and Paul, it's a tough race for "heartless bastard of the year" honors, says Denis Campbell at UK Progressive. People are drowning in water, not red ink. What's the purpose of government if not to "take care of its people in a time of true crisis"?
6. Adam & Eve adult products
What the company said: "Hurricane Irene Soaks East Coast and it is time for the Ultimate Hurricane Party! While the east coast is getting soaked thanks to Hurricane Irene, we're giving you an exclusive chance to hunker down and get WET too!"
Reaction: For shame, says Bree88 at Cafe Mom. It's hard to believe even an adult-product company is "so insensitive as to market Hurricane Irene and make it funny," much less "try to profit from a hurricane that is killing people." Hands down, "this is the absolute most disgusting marketing attempt I have ever seen."
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