Obama's Afghanistan decision took 94 days. How do others compare?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

On Tuesday night at West Point, President Obama will finally announce his new strategy for Afghanistan. In recent weeks, however, the debate has centered less on what the president will decide and more on how long it's taken him to decide it. Has Obama dithered, as Dick Cheney charges, or has he deliberated appropriately?

From Aug. 30, when Gen. Stanley McChrystal sent the administration his sobering Afghanistan assessment, to Tuesday, 94 days will have passed. For a measure of whether that's too long, too short or just right, let's compare that time frame with those of a dozen other historical decisions, big and small, and see if Obama rates as a slowpoke or a speed demon:

2 days: How long the conclave of cardinals deliberated before selecting Joseph Ratzinger (Benedict XVI) as the successor to Pope John Paul II in 2005

4 days: Period from when Britney Spears shaved her head until she voluntarily checked into a Malibu, Calif., rehab facility in February 2007

12 days: Duration of the negotiations among Jimmy Carter, Egypt's Anwar Sadat and Israel's Menachem Begin that produced the Camp David Accords in September 1978

36 days: Time needed to resolve the 2000 U.S. presidential contest, from Election Day to the Supreme Court's Bush v. Gore decision

44 days: Period between the invasion of Iraq on March 19, 2003, and President George W. Bush's declaration that "major combat operations" were over

70 days: How long the Washington Nationals needed to sign pitcher Stephen Strasburg, the top pick in the 2009 baseball draft

94 days: Time President Obama took to review the Afghanistan war and announce a new strategy

116 days: Duration of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, which resulted in the creation of the American Constitution

157 days: From the Iowa caucuses to Hillary Rodham Clinton's concession, how long it took the Democratic Party to select a presidential candidate in 2008

189 days: Time it took Brett Favre to unretire (again) from professional football and join the Minnesota Vikings this season

214 days: Period from the Gulf of Tonkin resolution on Aug. 7, 1964, until the first U.S. combat troops arrived in Vietnam

253 days: Length of the O.J. Simpson murder trial in 1995, from opening statements to verdict

269. days: Duration of Elizabeth Taylor's shortest marriage (her first, to Conrad "Nicky" Hilton, which ended in divorce)

-- Outlook staff

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