Editor’s note: This post has been altered from it’s original version to correct an error.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid caught some flack recently for saying that Hurricane Katrina — which devastated the Gulf Coast region in 2005 — wasn’t as bad as last year’s Hurricane Sandy. He later retracted those remarks, saying he “simply misspoke.”
Louisiana Sen. David Vitter was quite irked at Reid’s statement, however, and couldn’t resist a little name-calling.
“Sadly, Harry Reid has again revealed himself to be an idiot, this time gravely insulting Gulf Coast residents,” Vitter said, according to the Review-Journal. “Katrina and Sandy caused real human misery. By most measures, Katrina was the worst natural disaster in history.”
Nobody should deny that Hurricane Katrina was an awful thing, made more awful by the myriad failures of the federal government to respond swiftly to the damage. But Katrina isn’t even close to the worst natural disaster in history.
For example, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake killed at least 700 people, but possibly as many as 3,000.
When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., 15,000 people died.
More than 200,000 were killed in the Asian tsunami in 2004.
And the bubonic plague wiped out between 75 million and 200 million people between 1348 and 1350.
Now, I won’t say that Vitter’s lack of historical perspective makes him an idiot. In fact, it’s generally not terribly useful to use terms like that in public discourse. (I have been guilty of doing so myself, and I include myself in that condemnation.)
But I think it might be appropriate to point out that — despite his tendency to say things for which he must later apologize or retract — Reid has never been caught patronizing prostitutes. Surely that’s an idiotic thing for a United States senator to do?