Opinion Brief

Bachmann says Irene is God's judgment on Congress: Seriously?

The GOP presidential hopeful insists she was just joking when she suggested that the Supreme Being is punishing Congress with natural disasters

The video: Add Republican presidential hopeful Michele Bachmann to the list of public figures who see natural disasters as a sign that American politics upset God. Following in the footsteps of Texas pastor John Hagee (who claimed that God sicked Hurricane Katrina on New Orleans to protest its gay pride parade) and televangelist Pat Robertson (who linked Katrina to the abortion debate), Bachmann suggested Sunday that God unleashed natural disasters on the East Coast to spook Congress into cutting spending. Speaking in Florida, 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?'" (Watch the video below.) A spokesperson said the congresswoman's statement was "obviously" made "in jest."

The reaction: Bachmann's "remarks were delivered in at least something of a lighthearted way," says Alexander Burns at Politico. The just-a-joke defense is "believable." Still, this was "amazingly insensitive," says Robert Schlesinger at U.S. News & World Report  , especially since Irene has already killed two dozen people. My bet is that "Bachmann wants it both ways," says John Nichols at The Nation. "A 'wrath of God' speech for the faithful and just a 'jest' for the rest of the country." Check out the video:

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