I’m not a big fan of politically-driven mission names for military operations, mainly because it’s unseemly to use Madison Avenue sloganeering for wars. The Pentagon trend seemed to start with Operation Desert Shield and pick up steam, and it was entirely self-serving to the Commander in Chief serving at the time. However, after the selection for the mission name for our Libyan adventure, perhaps the MadAve approach has its merits. As Jonah Goldberg wrote, the name approved by Barack Obama, Odyssey Dawn, sends a slightly different message than perhaps intended:
Odyssey, after all, is a term for a very long and involved adventure. If memory serves, Odysseus took a very long time to come home. Maybe it’s just a coincidence that the Pentagon came up with a label that basically says this is beginning of an extended, seemingly endless, journey.
I had the exact same thought — and shouldn’t a man with a classical Ivy League education have caught that reference? Even if Obama was not familiar with The Odyssey, the dictionary definition of “odyssey” should have raised a red flag:
Definition of ODYSSEY
1: a long wandering or voyage usually marked by many changes of fortune
For a mission that is supposed to be counted in “days, not weeks,” it looks like Obama’s choice of mission names is an epic failure.
The Week has more ridicule of the mission name:
If this is “the return of Ulysses,” then obviously “Gadhafi plays the Cyclops,” says Pepe Escobar in Asia Times. “But who’s Circe? Hillary Clinton?”
“Apparently, our Libyan adventure is called ‘Operation Odyssey Dawn’ because ‘Operation Princess Rainbow Sparkle Pony’ wasn’t manly enough,” tweets CanadianCynic.
It’s like a bunch of Frank Zappa–loving Pentagon flacks were in some basement coming up with a “nifty name” for the mission, and one says, “How about naming it for a minivan and a dishwashing detergent?” says Mark Thompson in TIME. And for some reason, “Operation Sienna Palmolive” didn’t fly.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!