I have a little sympathy for the view that it’s a little bit unseemly when you see members of the Obama administration badmiuthing their predecessors. The fact that the Bushies an Fox News types doing the criticism are hypocrites is noteworthy but doesn’t totally answer the objection. The larger issue is that this sort of context-setting wouldn’t be nearly as necessary if the press would do the appropriate context work themselves.
It should be obvious that problems like the collapse of the global financial system, years of systematic neglect of Afghanistan, and a new global skepticism about the merits of American leadership are going to have a lot of momentum behind them and it’s not worth criticizing a new administration for failing to turn the whole thing around in three months. But since that courtesy and basic good sense largely hasn’t been extended, I don’t see what alternative the new team has but to be a bit rude and push back aggressively. This is especially true when one considers that Karl Rove and Dick Cheney have decided to serve as high-profile anti-Obama surrogates rather than doing the normal thing and laying low.