08/22/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Rooting for the Worst

They want the president to fail. That's the drumbeat we've heard for months now. When Senator Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) recently said that health care would be Obama's "Waterloo," did he remember that he and his commander-in-chief were part of the same country? Did DeMint remember that with Napoleon's defeat France was a humiliated country, occupied by foreign powers? What does the good senator think happens to America when our president confronts his Waterloo?

What makes opposition take the form of rooting for the worst outcome? Of course, it doesn't have to be that way. Just listen to Orin Hatch wistfully recall his deal making with Ted Kennedy. We should expect the party in opposition to try to ameliorate what its members see as the negative aspects of legislation that comes before them. When they don't have the votes to carry the day with amendments that express their point of view, we also expect them to stand in opposition: to create delays in implementation and to continue to make the case for alternative policies and perspectives.

But since January we have consistently seen key Republican leaders go beyond the rhetoric of a loyal opposition. Instead, they express an intense desire to see the new President and his crew run aground. The motivation seems fairly simple: If the president fails in his early efforts, then he will be on a slippery slope of political decline and the Republicans can gain the upper hand in the mid-term elections. But there seems to be no concern with the consequences of failure for the country. Without health care reform, what happens to the millions of uninsured? Without economic growth and job creation, what will happen to citizens without hope for the future? Without success in Afghanistan, what will happen to America's standing in the world and to our security at home?

They want the president to fail. But in rooting for the worst, some Republican leaders betray their own callous disregard for the fate of our country. How can they hope for Waterloo? This is not just about Barack Obama. This is about our collective future.