PLENTY OF COWARDICE TO GO AROUND…. Last week, after Dick Cheney’s loathsome condemnations of President Obama, I called the disgraced former vice president a coward. Apparently, the spinelessness isn’t limited to the man who helped run the Bush administration.

Peter Baker has a lengthy NYT piece on the ways in which the Obama White House approaches counter-terrorism, and Matt Yglesias flagged an illustrative paragraph:

A half-dozen former senior Bush officials involved in counterterrorism told me before the Christmas Day incident that for the most part, they were comfortable with Obama’s policies, although they were reluctant to say so on the record. Some worried they would draw the ire of Cheney’s circle if they did, while others calculated that calling attention to the similarities to Bush would only make it harder for Obama to stay the course. And they generally resent Obama’s anti-Bush rhetoric and are unwilling to give him political cover by defending him.

This is pretty sad. These former officials are worried, even now, about Cheney and his minions? Nearly a year out of office, the disgraced former vice president might punish senior Bush-era officials if they dared to offer a positive assessment on Obama-era counter-terrorism efforts?

Remember, this is the team that ran the executive branch — badly — for eight long, painful years.

As for resenting Obama’s “anti-Bush” rhetoric, this is awfully petty. For one thing, Obama hasn’t bashed the former president directly since taking the oath of office. For another, Bush did leave a series of crises for Obama to clean up — the Great Recession, two wars, a job market in freefall, a huge deficit, and crushing debt, a health care system in shambles, a climate crisis, an ineffective energy policy, an equally ineffective immigration policy, a housing crisis, the collapse of the U.S. auto industry, a mess at Gitmo, a severely tarnished global reputation, etc. — and it hardly seems unreasonable for the president to make occasional references to what he “inherited” the day he took office.

Or as Matt put it, some of the loyal Bushies “don’t want to say he’s doing the right thing because their feelings are hurt that a Democrat said bad things about his grossly unpopular Republican predecessor? For this they’re going to undermine support for policies that they themselves believe are keeping the country safe?”

It’s hard to overstate how much better off the country is now that these folks are just major media personalities, instead of top White House officials.

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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.