Bad form, Mr. President

After touring the ashes of a San Diego, Calif., neighborhood Thursday, President W. George Bush touted the state’s Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger for quickly responding to the region’s needs in the wake of the major fire disaster.

And rightly so. No one understands better than Louisianans how massive an undertaking it is to protect homes and lives in the path of a disaster.

The rapidly spreading inferno has destroyed at least 1,400 homes and displaced nearly 900,000 people, according to the latest news reports.

And had Bush’s statement ended there we’d be writing our annual Halloween safety message.

But Bush’s message, intended to support the thousands praying their homes are spared from the blazes, took on a political ring. The leader of the free world used the forum to take a jab at outgoing Gov. Kathleen Blanco who botched the handling of Katrina.

“It makes a significant difference when you have somebody in the statehouse willing to take the lead,” Bush told reporters.

Two years post-Katrina/Rita, Louisiana stands in agreement. But the house we’re looking to for support and help is the one Bush occupies.

Saturday marks the deadline for Bush to sign WRDA, which would authorize work on the Morganza-to-the-Gulf hurricane protection system. The President also used his moment before the press Thursday to criticize the bill, calling it “fiscally irresponsible” legislation.

Louisiana continues to make forward strides. We’re not going backwards … bringing up past missteps by the nation’s Office of Homeland Security, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or even the White House itself in the days following Hurricane Katrina.

Blanco herself said it best in a statement released earlier this week. “Of all the lessons learned from Katrina now being put into place in California, I would hope the one he would remember is that politics has no place in any disaster.”

Well said. It’s not a competition. There’s plenty of blame on both sides of the aisle for the 2005 hurricane season. What’s happening in California is a disaster. Let’s not lose focus on the lives forever changed by it.