The Republican freakout over kind-of-but-not-really leaving Iraq is as sad as it is predictable. It also follows a pattern: ever since 2008, Republicans have been eager to criticize Obama for the modalities of withdrawal, but they're not quite willing to actually argue that the U.S. should stay fighting over there, since they know what sort of domestic electoral rebuke that would invite. They might want to read Marc Lynch's (very good) essay on withdrawal for a possible new talking point to square the circle:
Thanks to Bush's 2008 SOFA deal and Obama's clear public declarations over the last few years, the withdrawal will not be a sudden, unexpected or disruptive removal of a vital support structure. Iraqi politics have already adapted to the declining American role, and factored it in. The result hasn't been pretty -- worrying centralization of power by Prime Minister Maliki, a fractious and ineffective Parliament, continuing institutional deficiencies, a nasty political discourse, and ongoing low level violence. But it looks resilient enough to avoid catastrophe, and above all it doesn't depend on (or want) constant American pushing and prodding and intervention to carry on.
So just say that vindicates Bush! Iraqi democracy, amirite? Had not we fought so long and so hard against so many, Iraqis would never have gotten the opportunity to kick us out of Iraq! Purple fingers in the sky like it's 2005, everyone!
Any GOP presidential candidate that uses this line in next month's national-security debate, I want credit. Shit, I should pitch this to the Weekly Standard and see if I can Alan Sokel them.