Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) appeared on Fox News this morning to respond to reports of Moammar Gadhafi’s demise. His first instinct wasn’t to thank American troops, but rather, to thank French troops.

“Today’s not a day to point fingers,” the right-wing Florida senator said. “I’m glad it’s all working out. Ultimately this is about the freedom and liberty of the Libyan people. But let’s give credit where credit is due: it’s the French and the British that led in this fight, and probably even led on the strike that led to Gadhafi’s capture, and, or, you know, to his death.

“So, that’s the first thing. The second thing is, you know, I criticize the president, for, he did the right things, he just took too long to do it and didn’t do enough of it.”

In the mind of this rising Republican star, the American military that helped drive Gadhafi’s regime from power deserves no credit at all. Marco Rubio is comfortable crediting the French, but not American men and women in uniform.


Remember hearing about the “blame America first” crowd? Well, say hello to the “thank America last” crowd.

Rubio, by the way, isn’t the only member. In August, when Gadhafi’s government fell, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) issued a joint statement in which the Republicans commended the “British, French, and other allies, as well as our Arab partners, especially Qatar and the UAE.” McCain and Graham eventually said Americans can be “proud of the role our country” played, but nevertheless condemned the administration’s “failure” to act the way the GOP senators wanted.

Republicans hate the president so much, they just can’t bring themselves to credit him for the success of the mission, or even thank American servicemen and women for their service in completing the mission.

I realize Rubio is a reflexive partisan, but even for him, his comments on Fox News this morning were just cheap. When the fear of Obama getting some credit for success is stronger than the satisfaction that comes with Gadhafi’s demise, there’s a problem.

As for Rubio complaining about the way in which Obama’s policy came together, it’s worth noting that the president assembled an international coalition with surprising speed and won approval from the United Nations extremely quickly.

If Rubio and his ilk don’t want to applaud the president for getting the results they claim to have wanted, the least they can do is have the decency to acknowledge the efforts of U.S. troops. Is that really too much to ask from the right?

Update: McCain appeared on CNN this morning and said, “I think the [Obama] administration deserves credit, but I especially appreciate the leadership of the British and French in this in carrying out this success.” Shameless.

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.