By Noel SheppardAssociate Editor, Newsbusters.org

Rush Limbaugh started a firestorm in January when he told FOX News Channel's Sean Hannity he wanted Barack Obama's socialist policies to fail.

Months later, it was revealedthat an August 2006 Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll found 51 percent of Democrats hoping that then-President George W. Bush would not succeed.

While folks on the right jump with joy over this seeming absolution of Limbaugh's guilt, one has to wonder whether such numbers should be at all shocking.

The argument today is that wishing ill upon President Obama is unpatriotic because of the fragile condition of our economy -- but it is a metaphysical certitude that Washington and Lincoln presided over a much weaker nation than what we are facing in 2009.

It is an indisputable, historical fact that many Colonists did not support independence from England, and were hoping with all their heart and all their soul that President George Washington would fail.

Less than a century later, likely half the nation hoped President Abraham Lincoln didn't succeed in defeating the Confederacy.

The argument today is that wishing ill upon President Obama is unpatriotic because of the fragile condition of our economy -- but it is a metaphysical certitude that Washington and Lincoln presided over a much weaker nation than what we are facing in 2009.

More recently, if such a poll was taken during the Vietnam War there's no question that many would have expressed a desire for Presidents Johnson AND Nixon to fail. Regarding the latter, the economy in Nixon's final 10 months was in total disarray -- and far worse than our current condition! -- as a result of OPEC's oil embargo.

As such, what makes President Obama so special that wishing him anything but success is almost an act of treason?

Some might argue that Limbaugh's statements are unacceptable due to his high-profile position, and that he must be more guarded with his opinions as a result.

But doesn't that run quite counter to the First Amendment? After all, Limbaugh is a conservative commentator who gets paid a sizable sum to express his views.

This suggests something else entirely.

As former General Electric CEO Jack Welsh saidon Monday, if you say anything bad about our current president, "all of a sudden you're a pariah!"

This can't possibly be due to current economic conditions for it seems certain John McCain would not be similarly protected from criticism if he had won in November.

Sadly, this means the likely culprit is race and that Attorney General Eric Holder was right when he called us a nation of cowards just not for the reasons he believes.

Noel Sheppard is associate editor of the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at nsheppard@newsbusters.org.

Noel Sheppard is associate editor of the Media Research Center's NewsBusters.org. He welcomes feedback at NewsBustersNoel@gmail.com.