Long-term thinking like that doesn't work. There've only been two elections since the Reagan years where a plausible argument can be made that a marginally viable 3rd-party candidate affected the outcome of the presidential election: 1992 and 2000.
Yet the Overton window has still shifted radically rightward over the last 30+ years. The relatively paltry number of people in this country who have decided to vote for the candidate that best represents their values can hardly be blamed for that shift. It's a lot more plausible to blame the masses, especially those who lean to the left, who've decided to vote for centrist after centrist (i.e., "the lesser evil"), though the Republicans continue to nominate more and more radically right-wing candidates.
Democrats are like the Baltimore Ravens of politics. They load up with awesome, even inspirational defensive players and thus often rank highly in fewest points allowed, win a fair number of games as a result and go to the playoffs most years. Yeah, they might even win a Super Bowl. But mostly they lose the biggest games. Meanwhile the Manning brothers and Tom Brady lead teams to championship after championship.
Eventually you have to draft a QB a team can believe in.
It's not just the category or just the rain. Other factors include:
To chill's point, those things obviously have an impact on how much rain falls, but they also are important determiners of the storm surge height, wave heights and wind damage; if a couple 75mph gusts blow over your house, you might lose a lawn chair and a shutter or two. If the wind blows on your house at 75mph for four hours, you might lose a lot more.
For most people who aren't weather geeks, the Saffir-Simpson scale has very little value. Some of the NOAA/NHC forecasters and others have said as much in some of their interviews about Irene and other recent storms. But whatever factors you want to cough up to rank hurricanes, what really matters is the ultimate impact of the storm, not how it was classified in the record books or by breathless (and brainless) reporters on CNN. We can argue about relative impacts of storms, but by most measures Irene has been a devastating event that makes the warnings and preparations seem pretty appropriate. Here's one way of slicing up the data.
BTW, whoever is on board with the "Irene was a joke"/"boy who cried wolf" meme is being as silly as those reporters standing on the beach in their rainsuits shouting into their microphones while getting "lashed" (seriously guys, can we come up with at least one other verb?) by wind and rain. Irene could've been much more severe along any of these physical measures of hurricane strength had it taken even a slightly different course as it moved up the east coast . . .
So I don't know about you guys, but I'd rather be inconvenienced and deal with some extra economic impact as a result of safety measures than to risk hundreds of lives and chaos in the streets of NYC. I think most people would agree with that–ultimately, anyway.
While there's an important lesson in the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf, so is there in the story of the Three Little Pigs.
Maybe Computer Science should be in the College of Theology. -- R. S. Barton