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At the start of another major political week, with Republicans newly
energized over McCain’s VP pick, politicians are mobilized for the
larger cause of confronting a looming disaster threatening our vulnerable Gulf port.

The New York Times thoroughly reviewed where we’ve been with such threats, and where we’re headed.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal
is one of the nation’s outstanding leaders. Quick reminder: After
Hurricane Katrina, the likelihood of a Republican being elected in
Louisiana was practically nil. Jindal rose above all that. He’s one of the rising stars of the Republican party, and figured prominently in the Republican National Convention this week.

As was newly named vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin.

Of course, John McCain is the central figure to this week’s process and celebration. 

Gustav changed all that.

Republican John McCain on Sunday ordered political
speeches canceled for his Republican nominating convention on Monday to
avoid a festive atmosphere while Americans cope with Hurricane Gustav.

McCain and other Republicans moved quickly to try to avoid a repeat
of 2005 when President George W. Bush was seen as out of touch as
Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

“Of course this is a time when we have to do away with most of our
party politics,” said McCain, who has been harshly critical of Bush’s
performance during Katrina.

Republican leaders, including McCain, say it would be unseemly to be
seen celebrating while a natural disaster unfolded on the Gulf Coast
1,100 miles away. Organizers said they would plan day to day based on
the impact of the hurricane.

McCain, speaking by video hookup from St. Louis after visiting an
emergency command center in Jackson, Mississippi, said it was time that
“we take off our Republican hats and put on our American hats and say
‘America, we’re with you.’”

Before this ever came up, some of my friends and family have been
talking lately about how adversity brings out our true character. For
better or for worse. It tries us and tests us and reveals what we’re
made of and where our faults may lie.

Right now, party politics have halted in America. And once again, tested by a disaster or the potential of one, the nation unites as the “content of our character” is judged.

In the early going, organizations planning major social events for
the Republican National Convention have either cancelled or curtailed
those events, and made contributions to relief efforts in the Gulf
Coast. Several I’ve heard from have also added their prayers.

Please say a prayer for the people in the path of the storm.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....