The Truth About Timetables

Matt Lewis
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Posted: Jan 26, 2008 8:46 PM
Both sides are trying to spin this timetables issue.  As usual, the truth is somewhere in between.

First, McCain is correct to point out that Governor Romney talked about setting private timetables.  McCain's argument is that -- at the time in which Romney said it -- this was seen as being less than 100 percent supportive of the war effort.  His team would also argue that this statement could even be seen as a sort of tacit admission that we were losing the war.  McCain is also correct to imply that, even if the details regarding timetables were kept secret, their existence might give the enemy hope that if they just hold on long enough, we will eventually withdraw.

But McCain's campaign is probably over-reaching in an effort to portray Romney's statement as being more egregious than it actually was.   For example, on many occasions, Romney has warned against bringing the troops home too soon.  Romney was also explicit about the fact that we should never telegraph our intentions to the enemy.  In addition, some of this may be a matter of semantics.  For example, Romney's verbiage on this subject usually focuses on words like "metrics", "objectives," "milestones," and "benchmarks," -- terms that are more palatable than "timetables" (which are associated with withdraw.)  As Romney's staff has pointed out to me, President Bush, himself, has mentioned that Iraq must meet certain benchmarks ...