Yorktown, Virginia - October 17, 1781
General Benjamin Lincoln ignored the morning sun in his eyes and walked straightaway to the tent. He took a deep breath and spoke loudly. "General Washington?"
George Washington looked up from his papers and saw his deputy standing at the entrance to the tent.
"General Lincoln, come in," said the Commander-in-chief of the American forces.
Benjamin Lincoln entered and at Washington's gesture, took a seat across the small wooden table that served at the war desk.
"What's on your mind, Benjamin?" asked Washington.
"Sir, we're awaiting word from General Cornwallis, but we have another problem," said the deputy. "The newspapers are full of criticisms of the American/French coalition. They say that the fact that most nations of the world have not provided troops or other assistance show that our cause is against the international will. Plus they say you have no 'exit strategy' for this war."
General Washington sat silent for a moment. Then, "'Exit strategy?' What does that mean? Last month, the French fleet's bombardment of the harbor and vanquishing of the British fleet left Cornwallis stranded. And, for three days now our combined forces have been routing the British position."
Washington shook his head. "Victory's just around the corner, Benjamin. And these people want an 'exit strategy?' This new nation won't last 50 years with that kind of mindset."
Atlanta, Georgia - October 7, 1916
John Heisman looked at the reporter from the Atlanta Consititution. "You want to know what?"
The reporter looked at his notes, then at the football coach, then at his notes. "I want to know your exit strategy for the game, Coach," came the reply.
The head coach of the Georgia Insitute of Technology scratched his head. "Why in the world would you ask me such an asinine question?"
The reporter looked at his notes. "According to my notes, this game has gone on for nearly 45 minutes and Georgia Tech has not made a single first down. You won the opening toss ... but kicked off. That kind of questionable decision-making is not something our readers will understand. True, you've had some success ..."
"Some success?" Heisman yelled. "Have you been watching the game?"
"Not only have I been watching the game, but the run-up to the game," came the reply. "After Cumberland beat your baseball team last year, you manipulated a contract with terms so unfair that they had no choice but to play the game. So, violating all acceptable behavior, you brought your forces here. Now, my readers want to know your exit strategy."
Heisman looked at the reporter and said nothing. "'Exit strategy!' If that don't beat all."
The Georgia Tech coach yelled across the field. "Hey Butch! You tired yet?"
Cumberland coach Ernest "Butch" McQueen just looked at his counterpart and said nothing. It would be over soon.
Heisman laughed. He turned and yelled somthing at the officials. The referee signalled the end of the game and the 11 Engineers came to the sidelines, all smiles.
Heisman looked at the reporter and pointed to the scoreboard. "There's our exit strategy: 222-to-nothing!"
Washington, DC - August 6, 1945
Charles Griffith Ross looked at his high school friend and shook his head. "Harry, the press is all over us on this one."
Harry S Truman look at Ross and just smiled. "We're not going to give in, Charles. We're going to see this through to the end."
The White House press secretary opened a folder. "I understand their power, Harry. I spent 27 years at the Post and Dispatch and have seen it before. They aren't going to let go. They want to know your exit strategy for this war."
Truman slammed his hand down on the desk. "Doggone it, I've had my fill of their silly questions and outrageous statements. This is war. You win a war. You don't just plan an exit, like some pimp when his whorehouse gets raided. You fight till you win."
Ross said, "I need to tell them something."
Just then, a knock came on the door, it opened quietly and the woman from the desk outside left three pages with the President.
President Truman looked at the papers carefully, smiling wider and wider.
"Here you go, Charles. Give 'em this."