night in the hope of escaping the omnistorm. It felt rather like clinging to the undercarriage of the final B52 to leave Saigon, but we made it. Then, from the haven of temperate London, we watched New York and poor, desperate New Jersey fill up with water and plunge into darkness. Friends on Long Island who could still manage to use email told us of their flooded homes and lost possessions. Much of lower Manhattan, as I write, remains effectively uninhabitable.
So where does this come on the scale of facts that will affect the presidential election? Almost nowhere. In spite of some rather tastelessly blatant wishful thinking in the Obama camp, this was not a great emotional turning point for the sitting president – mainly because the sitting president does not do emotion. If he did, he might well have benefited by becoming the consoling father of the nation, or at least the effective spokesman of its collective agony. He might have had as electrifying a spontaneous moment as the one George Bush had at Ground Zero when he shouted the country’s anger and defiance through a loudhailer: “The rest of the world hears you – and the people who knocked these buildings down will hear all of us soon.”