When the Going Gets Tough, Americans Set a Timetable to Get Going

Timetables: We're all obsessed right now with timetables.

Now, a timetable to get out of Iraq.

Sometimes time tables are born of inspiration, like JFK aiming to land a man on the Moon before the decade of the '60s was out.

Others are less grandiose… a timetable a board imposes on a CEO to turn things around or else.

One thing I've noticed is timetables are getting shorter — maybe because our attention spans are, as is our stomach for hardship.

It's not like we're saying when things get hot, we immediately get out of the kitchen. We just set a timetable to get out of the kitchen. Again, because it's hot — and in Iraq, very hot.

You know, there was a time we didn't impose deadlines when things got hot. We just got to it. When the job was done, it was done.

Imagine if a frustrated and impatient nation had demanded a timetable for Abraham Lincoln to pull out of what early on looked like a reckless Civil War?

Or after the Japanese were banging us up pretty good in the Pacific at the start of World War II, we panicked and put a deadline on ending World War II?

I don't know, but this much I do know: Timelines and deadlines can work if they focus everyone on a prize. Including the very folks for whom we're not intentionally offering one: our enemies.

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