‘BAD FORM’…. I vaguely recall a time — I think the period was known as “2001 through 2008” — when the right considered it unpatriotic to question and/or criticize the military judgment of the Commander in Chief. It was an argument that many at traditional news outlets bought into. Bush/Cheney critics were told it might literally be “treasonous” to second guess the administration’s decision regarding national security, and it led to a strange debate about the propriety of dissent in the U.S.

Some of the former administration’s defenders have short memories.

Isn’t it a big story that Newt Gingrich and some leading conservative media figures harshly criticized Obama’s handling of the pirate standoff — while it was unfolding?

I just got off the phone with a military expert and former Army Ranger who supports Republicans and Dems, and he hammered Gingrich and conservative media figures for criticizing Obama, saying that the Commander-in-chief deserved “respect” while a sensitive operation was unfolding.

“I would hope that they’re feeling a little silly today,” said the expert, Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for National Security Studies. “It’s bad form. You don’t make this a partisan issue until an operation has been assessed. It’s fair game ex post facto. But during the emergency, I think that our elected leaders deserve our respect.”

Exum added, “If Glenn Beck loves his country as much as he alleges, he should hold his tongue when elected leaders on the ground are dealing with a very difficult situation.”

The hostage standoff with Somali pirates really seemed to drive quite a few leading conservatives completely around the bend. The desperation to attack the president was so overwhelming, they embraced exactly the kind of tactics conservatives said patriotic Americans should never engage in.

Last night, it reached the point that Bernard Goldberg, a conservative media critic and prominent Obama detractor, told Sean Hannity on the air, “I’m sorry, Sean … but we have to stop going out of our way to find fault with every single thing [the president] does…. If something bad happened here, and thank God it didn’t, but if something bad happened here, I guarantee you, I’ll tell you who would have been leading the crusade against [Obama]: you.”

For what it’s worth, it didn’t seem like Hannity “felt a little silly.”

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.