Amazing, isn't it? A few days ago, Tuesday's presidential election was the big story. How many jobs did or didn't President Barack Obama create? Exactly how much in taxes did or didn't Mitt Romney pay? Or ... pick your pet issue, partisans. The storm called Sandy interrupted all that, reminding us once again that nature trumps politics - and everything else.
We'll elect a new president Nov. 6 or re-elect the current one. The political partisans on both sides will continue their infantile sniping either way. But the fact is, no matter who is president when a disaster such as Sandy strikes, you can count on the much-maligned federal government of the United States of America (and state governments, too - more on that in a moment) to do what has to be done, to provide the help that is needed. That's not true in every country.
So, Lesson No. 1 from Sandy: When the wind is screaming, trees are falling and wires are sparking, when your house is flooded and your streets are impassable - whether you are a conservative or a liberal, it sure is nice to see those National Guard trucks, Coast Guard helicopters, local firefighters, police officers, public-works crews and all the other public employees who are out there as you read this, still trying to restore some normalcy to our worlds.
Lesson No. 2: Just about nobody likes their electric company - but we sure do love those linemen. A big thanks to the crews in the bucket trucks.
Lesson No. 3 (actually more of a reminder): Politics sure does make strange bedfellows. One of the oddest storm sights had to be Republican Gov. Chris Christie touring damaged areas with President Barack Obama. Christie was even praising Obama as the storm approached for the president's pre-landfall disaster declaration, which will speed federal aid to coastal South Jersey.
And then there is Christie himself, a force of nature in his own right. Regular readers know we are not always fans of the bombastic governor. But he has perfect political pitch. He was where he needed to be, saying what needed to be said and doing what needed to be done at every moment.
Granted, the governor's video crews are always right there, taping it all for posterity, YouTube and a coming political ad. But Christie was everything you expect a governor to be in a crisis such as this. There was no doubt who was in control.
Lesson No. 4: Dunes work. Yes, some were breached, some destroyed. But overall, the damage appears to have been worse where there were no dunes. Ventnor, the most recent recipient of a massive beach-replenishment project, weathered the storm with its Boardwalk intact and its beaches in good shape. Opponents of dune projects might want to bear that in mind.
South Jersey has a long way to go to get back to normal. Our neighbors are suffering, with water-damaged homes and disrupted lives. But we'll be back. And maybe we'll learn that the political differences the partisans argue about are ... well, largely irrelevant in the face of the lesson a storm called Sandy just taught us.