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Republican Rep. Joseph Cao reaps the rewards of bipartisanship; Obama thanks him the Chicago way

Louisiana Republican Representative Joseph Cao

Remember all that intriguing 2008 talk about revising the harsh political tone of Washington, how so many in that swamp put themselves and their own selfish interests ahead of what's best for the nation? And how what this country really needs is a renewed sense of bipartisanship?

Rep. Anh "Joseph" Cao apparently bought into all that nonsense. Having defeated Democratic Rep. William "Doesn't Everybody Keep $90,000 in Their Household Freezer?" Jefferson for Louisiana's 2nd Congressional District, the first Vietnamese American ever elected to Congress went off to Washington in January of 2008 along with the new president.

The New Orleans lawyer said he wanted to work for the benefit of his constituents, whatever that took. So when it came time earlier this year to vote on the House floor on President Obama's massive healthcare bill, the first Republican to hold that district since 1891 became the only Republican in the entire House to vote in favor of the Democratic president's bill.

His wasn't the deciding vote. But, yes, that bipartisan decision caused him some grief among GOP colleagues.

Cao hoped the president might reward that bipartisanship by endorsing him in the Nov. 2 midterm election against a Democratic state legislator named Cedric Richmond, as a demonstration of Obama's comittment to new politics and bipartisanship. Or at least by staying out of the race, one of 435 across the country.

As the current campaign unfolded, Cao said he wanted to warn the president of Richmond's suspended law license and alleged ethics violations. But the Republican's calls to Rahm Emanuel's White House went unreturned for weeks. Not a promising sign in a city of one-way bipartisan streets.

Now, thanks to the indispensable daily Playbook of Politico's Mike Allen, the world knows that the very first campaign ad that Obama taped for this fall election cycle was to benefit Democrat Richmond against the Republican who enabled the White House to call healthcare passage bipartisan.

Thanks much, Joe.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Associated Press

Comments () | Archives (19)

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Who ever said the educated are smart?

Considering he VOTED NO on the Final reconciliation version, the final vote i would say he voted No, not yes. But Good job on spinning this. The guy only got elected because like you said a "Crook" had this seat before him. This is a strong democratic district. Stop the anti-Obama demagoguery. Why Dont you report about the way the republican party screwed Mike Castle. Mr Delaware a man who served Delaware with honor and integrity? This sort of partisan crap and shady reporting is what we call journalism anyway?

Francis Martin

Cao was a "useful idiot" for Obama then, not so much now. Now he's just an idiot for thinking he could ever make a deal with the devil.

I am sure he is more honest than Jefferson (isn't everybody) but he is the type of Republican we need to get out of office (along with all Democrats).

Here's hoping for better things in November. Either we go back to a constitutional Republic or onward to destruction. Our choice, our vote.

Obama should have learned to be more gracious. So much for bipartisanship.

The Democrats have no morality in general. Do not expcet from them gratitude, appreciation , loyalty. Obama has taught Cao a valuable lesson : you should always dance with the guy who took you to the Ball

Winning his seat as a Republican - blood, sweat & tears
Supporting Health Care Reform - GOP disdain
Knowing the President has your back - Priceless

Really? He claims that he wanted to work for the benefit of his constituents - so, when he does so, why does he now expect a gift from the White House as a result?

For the last two years, the Republicans have played an entrenched, obstinate role in Congress, determined to close ranks and ignore the will of the people, and voted against anything, no matter how necessary, if it makes the Democratic party look good.

Now, with the election looming and the public realizing that the Republicans aren't their friends, this is the best angle one Republican candidate can play - that he didn't get an attaboy from the White House for doing what he should've done anyway?

This was a horrible article. This guy voted on one thing with Dems, made no effort to build consensus, make counter-offers or otherwise work with both sides of the isle and then gets butth-urt when Obama would rather have a Dem in his seat?

Why is anyone surprised and when did Republicans turn into such weenies?

The White House ignored him just like he ignored th0se who voted for him.

Obama and the Beltway Dems idea of "partisanship" has been to sneer at Republicans to "sit down and shut up." The one time House Republicans met with Obama he lifted his chin and said he didn't have to consider their concerns at all because "I won."

Well, then why should Republicans give any gloss to the Obama/Pelosi/Reid power grab of moving American into Euro Socialist Democrat status?

Cao should have learned before, Obama is not a good man.

Whiny child, thy name is republican.

most of the people that want it back to the way of the founding fathers wouldnt get to vote or hold office if it was still that way.Only Property holding white males were allowed to vote or hold office.We didnt have a decent navy.If we went by jeffersons idea we would still have a few row boats along the coast.You could get tossed in jail for being critical of the goverment and that was after the revolutionary war .And their idea of prison was bad too because you just sat in a small room that was small enought that sitting was all u could do.My main point is that people need to study history for themselves and not just take everything that you hear at face value.And im conservative

Serves him right. Why would he expect special dispensation from the traitor-in-chief? Expect a bloodbath in November as those angered by the monkey business in DC send a clear message. Just don't count on Republicans being any smarter than the stupid Democrats they replace. At least Pelosi will have her 747 taken away. It can't bee too soon.

Cao is still like a babe in the woods--he hasn't toughened or wised up nearly enough. He should have known before going to DC that the pols there and especially in this administration couldn't be trusted. After the funding for abortion dabacle, he has no excuse for illusions or delusions. If he doesn't wake up, we'll have to do what a lot of us considered with Jefferson--vote for the crook (nka Richmond) and bank on him getting removed by criminal conviction or censure.

I live in Cao's District. I'm an Independent. Cedric Richmond(Obama's endorsed candidate) is known to be corrupt, has a suspended law license, and is from the same dirty political machine that produced Jefferson. Cao, on the other hand, has worked with Democrats on several issues, has no trace of corruption, and has proven time and again to do the best he can for his constituents, even when his fellow Republicans get cross with him about it. That is something rare in this political age. It's a shame Obama is pushing a proven scumbag onto New Orleans to up his party's congressional numbers.

Some of us still believe.
Bipartisanship - Yes We Can!

Democrats for Cao on Facebook

New Orleans, Louisiana

Just taking a look at these comments, you have to love the inane partisanship. Joseph Cao has been in Congress for 2 years, yet conservatives and liberals are blaming him for problems he didn't even create. The Democrats are just desperate to retain their majority, and this kind of behavior is going to hurt them and the country in the long run. The Republicans need to grow up and accept the fact that his district is liberal so any elected Republican has to be more moderate.

Did I miss something? You failed to mention that Cao voted against the bill in the final vote. Who cares what he did the first time when it didn't matter?

Cao was only voted in because most of New Orleans didn't realize that there even was a run-off election, not because he had majority support.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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