In a season touched by political division, the death of former Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco has been an occasion to briefly put such differences aside and honor a woman who served the state during some of darkest days in its history.
Blanco, a Democrat who led Louisiana after the devastation of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, will lie in state at the state Capitol Thursday and be buried in Lafayette on Saturday. Her death last Sunday after battling cancer prompted warm expressions of condolence and appreciation from state leaders of both parties.
That would no doubt have gratified Blanco, who in her final public appearances sometimes gently lamented the current partisanship paralyzing public life.
Blanco, who was pro-business, pro-life and a champion of education reform while also advocating for the underprivileged, represented a centrist sensibility largely absent from politics these days.
The government response to Katrina involved disputes that ultimately broke along party lines, essentially ending Blanco’s political career.
Those differences seem temporarily distant this week as Louisianans join in bidding farewell to Kathleen Blanco. It’s a fitting legacy for a woman who fought many political battles, yet didn’t let them define her.
She’ll be missed.