A simple sentiment

A SIMPLE SENTIMENT…. About a half-century ago, actor John Wayne, who made no secret of his conservative political viewers, was asked for his thoughts after JFK defeated Richard Nixon. “I didn’t vote for him,” Wayne said, “but he’s my president, and I hope he does a good job.”

It’s always struck me as such a basic concept, and the bare minimum of patriotism: don’t root against the home team. It’s one thing to disapprove of, or even actively loathe, the country’s elected leaders. But rooting for their failure has never supposed to be one of the options.

Even George W. Bush seems to understand that.

“I want my President to succeed because if my President succeeds my country succeeds, and I want my country to succeed,” Bush typically says when asked about Obama.

This seems to be at odds with the approach favored by congressional Republicans, who believe that if our president succeeds he might get re-elected, and the top priority should be his defeat.

And it’s definitely at odds with leading Republican voices who literally started rooting for the president to fail even before the inauguration. The day before the president was sworn in, Rush Limbaugh told his audience, “I disagree fervently with the people on our [Republican] side of the aisle who have caved and who say, ‘Well, I hope [President Obama] succeeds.’ … I hope Obama fails. Somebody’s gotta say it.”

A month later, Limbaugh, talking about efforts to revive the economy, added, “I want everything he’s doing to fail… I want the stimulus package to fail…. I do not want this to succeed.”

“I want my President to succeed because if my President succeeds my country succeeds, and I want my country to succeed.” If only conservatives could bring themselves to understand such a simple sentiment.

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Steve Benen

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.