November 9, 2009

The other day, Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele told ABC News that he and his fellow Republicans were going to get tough with anyone who didn't toe the party line on "core issues" such as health-care reform:

Steele: So candidates who live in moderate to slightly liberal districts have got to walk a little bit carefully here, because you do not want to put yourself in a position where you’re crossing that line on conservative principles, fiscal principles, because we’ll come after you.

Well, there was one solitary Republican who crossed the party line on health-care reform: Rep. Joseph Cao of Louisiana, who hails from a traditionally Democratic district that went up for grabs when ex-Rep. William Jefferson was busted for corruption.

Cao went on CNN Sunday and explained that his was a vote of conscience for the people in his district, "many of whom are poor, and many of whom have no health insurance."

He later commented further to a CNN reporter:

Cao chuckled when asked about the comment and said he "would like to remind" Steele that he and other Republican leaders trumpeted Cao's upset win over Democrat William Jefferson last December as a symbol of party diversity. Cao is the first Vietnamese-American member of Congress.

"He has the right to come after those members who do not conform to party lines, but I would hope that he would work with us in order to adjust to the needs of the district and to hold a seat that the Republican party would need," Cao told CNN.

As Republicans proved in NY-23 -- and as indeed they proved throughout the health-care debate -- they are becoming so ideologically blinkered that they rapidly losing the ability to have any kind of voice in Congress.

Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.

[H/t Versha Sharma at TPM.]

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