Bachmann sees Irene as divine message on spending

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann campaigned in Florida yesterday, attending services at a Baptist megachurch near Tampa. Afterwards, the right-wing lawmaker offered a rather unique perspective on the weekend’s weather developments. (via Jay Bookman)

She hailed the tea party as being common-sense Americans who understand government shouldn’t spend more than it takes in, know they’re taxed enough already and want government to abide by the Constitution.

“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?’ 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.”

I realize there are conservatives in evangelical circles with whom this message will resonate, but under sensible political norms, this should probably be a career-killer for a national political figure.

Consider exactly what she’s saying here. A major storm swept through the East coast over the weekend, causing at least 20 deaths across eight states. Michele Bachmann, a member of Congress and a leading presidential candidate, believes the hurricane was a message from God? And that the deadly storm has something to do with Bachmann’s opposition to federal spending? And that God is somehow aligned with Tea Partiers’ agenda?

This is just madness. Chris Wallace may be concerned that Bachmann is a “flake,” but anyone who thinks the federal budget prompted God to send a hurricane that killed 20 Americans has issues that far exceed flakiness.

If the megachurch’s pastor had said the same thing, I’d think he was a nut. But the standards for Bachmann are much higher, since she’s an elected federal official who’s inexplicably seeking the presidency.

If Bachmann is very lucky, her remarks will go largely unnoticed by the national media because the focus remains on the hurricane and its aftermath. But if reporters pick up on this, Bachmann’s reported remarks should effectively ruin her political ambitions.

Update: Bachmann’s campaign now claims she was kidding.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.