Is The GOP’s Future Still ‘Cao’? Or Is It Now Rush Limbaugh?

In 2008, Anh “Joseph” Cao became the only non-Hispanic minority in the GOP. With the party struggling to shed its all-white image, the Republican leadership quickly embraced the first Vietnamese member of Congress. In a memo called “The Time Is Cao,” House Minority Leader John Boehner told his colleagues that Cao is the “future” of the GOP:

“The Future is Cao” reads the subject line of Boehner’s memo. “As House Republicans look ahead to the next two years, the Cao victory is a symbol of what can be achieved when we think big, present a positive alternative, and work aggressively to earn the trust of the American people,” offers Boehner.

But today, Cao said that he will defy his GOP colleagues, who unanimously opposed the House recovery package, and will support the final stimulus bill:

“Even though it is going to be a humongous bill, even though we will be in debt for years, I believe that more likely than not, I will vote for it because the 2nd Congressional District needs a stimulus package.” … “A lot of the provisions in the bill will be good for the district, because we need almost everything,” he said. “You name it, we need it.”

Cao added: “I’m voting along what my conscience dictates and the needs of the 2nd Congressional District dictate, even if I were to be the only member of the GOP to vote for the stimulus package.”

Throughout the debate over the recovery package, it has become painfully clear that Rush Limbaugh, who wants Obama to “fail,” is the new “unofficial leader” of the GOP — as his “prominence and political import” has skyrocketed in recent weeks. In fact, House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) said he is happy to be a hard-right party, saying, “What transpired…and will give us a shot in the arm going forward is that we are standing up on principle and just saying no.” “We’re beginning to find our voice,” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI).

So is the “future” of the GOP still Cao? Is the “time” still Cao? Will the GOP follow his lead or continue to take its marching orders from Rush Limbaugh?