THE ROOT-FOR-FAILURE CAUCUS…. Ever since Rush Limbaugh argued that he hopes President Obama fails in office, there’s been some interesting back and forth on whether conservatives should actively and publicly hope for the nation’s decline.

It seems to have divided even the most radical of far-right Republicans. On the one hand, we have very conservative leaders like South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R) and TV preacher Pat Robertson who reject such talk outright.

On the other, we have a small handful of figures willing to endorse the sentiment. Yesterday, it was former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), who, when asked if he agreed with Limbaugh’s remarks hoping for presidential failure, said, “Well, exactly right.”

Today, ThinkProgress chatted with former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and radio host Mark Levin, who joined the caucus.

TP: What do you think about what Rush said about, I mean, do you hope, should we hope that President Obama fails?


TP: Yes?

SANTORUM: If … absolutely we hope that his policies fail…. I believe his policies will fail, I don’t know, but I hope they fail.

It’s possible that my memory is off, but I can’t recall ever hearing so many prominent political figures hoping for American leaders’ failure like this, especially not in the midst of a crisis.

That it’s coming from ideologues who believe they have the edge on “patriotism” — and insist that Bush’s liberal critics were guilty of “treason” — just makes this all the more bizarre.

About a half-century ago, actor John Wayne, who was very conservative, was asked for his thoughts after JFK defeated Richard Nixon in 1960. “I didn’t vote for him,” Wayne said, “but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

It’s the kind of sentiment that seemed obvious up until about, say, a month ago.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.