My father had a name for it: The Potbelly Syndrome. It wasn't a diet or exercise program. It was a theory he maintained about catastrophe, wherein people would gather at the general store after the fire, flood or blizzard to warm themselves around the stove, a potbelly stove, and commiserate about their experience. Maybe that explains why New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, had this to say about the federal response to Superstorm Sandy: “I have to say the administration, the president himself and FEMA Administrator Craig Fugate have been outstanding with us so far. We have a great partnership with them, and I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this.” This comes as a stark contrast to his assessment of Barack Obama in August as “nothing more than a Chicago ward politician.”
It comes at an awkward time for partisan politics. But that's not the way of nature. In an election that was all but void of discussion of global warming, along comes a very compelling talking point: Frankenstorm. How about when we're finished debating tax code reform and battleships versus horses and bayonets we take a few minutes to talk about continuing life on our planet. Having a planet on which to have these debates pushes all of that talk to the side. For now, at least. The chance to politicize a natural disaster has been, for the most part, tastefully avoided. That doesn't mean that in the days leading up to the election that we won't be reminded of how things might have been done differently. We are a planet of Slow Learners. Sometimes things have to fall on our head to get us to realize that the sky, or parts of it, is falling.
I don't know who will win the presidential race, but I do know that Mother Nature's office isn't up for grabs. She managed to do the one thing that Occupy Wall Street never managed to do: Shut it down for two days. She's still going to do what she does, and we do our best to stay out of the way, and hopefully we'll all meet together around that potbelly stove to swap stories.