THEY’RE IN NO POSITION TO BOAST…. With President Obama ending combat operations in Iraq, the Republicans who got every aspect of this conflict wrong from the start have decided that we owe them our thanks. Indeed, GOP leaders and neocon voices are feeling so good about themselves — after years of deadly, devastating failure — that they’re inclined to take a victory lap.

Yes, the old gang is all over the media. Republicans like John McCain and John Boehner, who were humiliatingly wrong about U.S. policy in Iraq for so many years, feel justified in bashing President Obama this week — despite the fact that he was right and they were wrong. Loyal Bushies like Stephen Hadley, Doug Feith, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, and Ari Fleischer have been ubiquitous, trying to convince Americans that the administration that launched this war in 2003 deserves credit now.

Honestly, is there something in the water? Is someone handing out crazy pills to conservatives?

The record is unambiguous. These misguided ideologues made the worst mistake imaginable, and thousands have died as a consequence of their ignorance, incompetence, and hubris. They launched a war for reasons that weren’t true, and then screwed up the aftermath in ways that were hard to even imagine. This wasn’t some minor misjudgment — the Republican failures in Iraq carry the kind of human, economic, diplomatic, and security costs that are so severe, they’re hard to even calculate.

If our public discourse allowed for reality to have meaning, and for catastrophic errors to come with consequences, those responsible for launching this misguided war would be discredited — permanently. Their appearances in the mainstream media would be grounds for laughter and derision. They would feel shame and embarrassment. Their names would be synonymous with words like “fool” and “liar.”

That these same men are all over the media, being treated as credible, and expecting our gratitude is as keen a reminder as I can think of that Republicans have long given up on the very idea of integrity.

I found Rachel Maddow’s segment on this last night quite compelling.

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The whole thing is worth watching, but here’s the conclusion:

“Two American things have been accomplished in Iraq. Tens of thousands, more than a million Americans served their country in a horrible war for seven and a half years under horrible circumstances and under political leadership that was not honest about why they had been sent there. Those Americans are to be honored for what they did and what they gave and they are to be taken care of as veterans now that they’re home.

“The other accomplishment in Iraq is that we have finally found a way to leave, to get combat troops out, now.

“Those two accomplishments belong to this president, who’s overseeing the withdrawal from Iraq, and to the people who served — the people who served honorably for these seven and a half long years.

“Credit for all the rest of it, for the made-up reasons for going in, for going in in the first place, for letting Afghanistan spill out of control in favor of this war, for the constant revisions for the justifications for war to obfuscate the craven petty radicalism that really started — Republicans, you guys can go right ahead and take that credit. Go right ahead. Credit where credit is due.”

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.