"A couple of weeks before August 28th - the night Barack Obama accepted the Democratic nomination for President, in a Denver football stadium - Stuart Shepard, the digital-media director of the lobbying arm of Focus on the Family, one of the most powerful organizations on the religious right, posed a question to his Internet viewers. 'Would it be wrong," he asked, "to pray for rain?" Shepard's answer, apparently, was no, because he proceeded to do just that. He prayed for there to be rain - abundant rain, torrential rain, "rain of Biblical proportions" - in Denver on August 28th. "I'm praying for unexpected, unanticipated, unforecasted rain that starts two minutes before the speech is set to begin," he said, adding, "I know there will probably be people who will pray for seventy-two degrees and clear skies, but this isn't a contest."In the event, Obama gave his speech under clear skies with the thermometer at seventy-two degrees. It's hard to draw definitive conclusions from this about the efficacy of prayer. Still, Shepard and others who assume that the Almighty faxes meteorological talking points as a matter of routine must now be puzzling over what He meant last week by arranging for a hurricane just severe enough to disrupt the opening of the Republican National Convention (and freshen the public's memories of the present Administration's Katrina incompetence) but, mercifully, not so severe as to do too much damage to the innocent."
EDIT: Just so we are clear, I posted this not because I endorse Hertzberg's views (even though I do think it's ludicrous to pray for a life-threatening storm just to screw your opponent's campaign over), but because I thought it was an incredibly tactless and insensitive article and was surprised that someone at the NYer did not think twice about relegating the victims of the hurricane to the status of mere pawns. News flash, the world does not revolve around this election.