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

October 5, 2010 |  5:38 am

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