“Mr Cao Goes To Washington” is a great character study about the impact of partisanship in Washington


Last night, I was looking for some late-night entertainment on TV. Being a Comcast customer, I have access to On Demand programming, where there is a fabulous, well-curated section called “Cinema Asian America”. I’m not entirely sure who’s responsible for organizing the content in this section, but this is clearly someone plugged into the Asian American film community, because I can always rely on high-quality Asian American films in this collection.

Last night didn’t disappoint. I caught “Mr Cao Goes To Washington“, which is an hour-long documentary produced by the Center for Asian American Media, and is currently free in Comcast’s On Demand section.

And it’s really fascinating.

The film followed Joseph Cao, the first Vietnamese-American Congressman, during his two-year term in office. Cao made headlines back in 2009 as a Republican, Asian American representative of a historically Democratic and predominantly African-American district in New Orleans that includes the lower ninth ward. Cao was responsible for clean-up in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and was also in office during the BP oil spill that devastated the local economy. Cao was also the only Republican to vote for the first House draft of the Affordable Care Act.

The documentary follows Cao in office, and tells the story of how the partisan environment of the Hill changes Cao, and his opinion of politics and public service. The story told by this film seems particularly relevant today, just hours after the fiscal cliff negotiations resulted in begrudging bipartisan support of a bill that most agree does too little, too late.

I only wish that I had seen this documentary sooner. While I don’t agree with Mr. Cao’s politics, I think I might’ve donated to his campaign in 2010, had I seen this film then.

Or, I would’ve at least considered it.

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