03/26/2011 01:11 pm ET | Updated May 26, 2011

Friday Talking Points [160] -- "Name That War" Contest

Anyone who sits in the Oval Office -- no matter what their name or political party -- is going to have detractors. As they should, since disagreeing with political leaders is almost the national sport in America, and always has been (sorry, baseball, but political bickering has been around a lot longer). Sometimes criticism of the president is for very principled and deeply-held beliefs. Sometimes, it is just knee-jerk-ism of the first order.

Which brings us to Newt Gingrich, who absolutely personified the mass Republican confusion on President Obama's Libyan War by being for it, then against it, and then maybe kinda for it again, and then... oh, I don't know, to be honest I've got more important things to do than keep up with what passes for Newt's supposedly-intelligent ideas.

First, Republicans were clamoring for Obama to "do something" in Libya. The word "dithering" was tossed around with abandon. Instead of asking anyone for permission, Obama should have sent the jets flying in to bomb Libya yesterday -- or even last week, dammit! Obama, instead, waited until the Arab League and the United Nations supported the idea, and then sent the missiles and planes flying. At this point, Republicans where aghast that Obama should act so swiftly to go to war, and insisted that Congress should have been consulted first, even though Congress had done precisely nothing in the run up to the war, and then couldn't be bothered to come back from vacation in order to deal with it. Logic, it seems, is the true first casualty of war.

Obama is also getting criticism from the Left, although it's harder to figure out, as it is not as hotly focused. Again the criticism that he should have consulted Congress (complete with calls for impeachment), and the mass confusion between the stance that we shouldn't have done anything, and the supposedly-enlightened idea that we should prevent slaughters from happening (which is usually a pretty Liberal idea).

Now, Obama's big gamble in Libya has yet to play itself out, so I don't think anyone can accurately say at this point how Americans will view this adventure in the future. Anyone interested in reading my serious commentary on Obama and Libya can check out the first article I wrote, before Obama intervened, the article I wrote following the beginning of the war, and the article I wrote which tries to make broad predictions of possible outcomes (fool's errand though that may be).

Today, I'm feeling less serious. If making light of a war when it has barely gotten underway offends you ("It's too soon!"), then I would strongly advise that you just stop reading this right now, and go check out March Madness games instead, or something.

Because today we're going to make a humorous attempt to help out whatever small office in the Pentagon's job it is to come up with the names for our military missions. Their biggest failure, to date, was trying to call our second war in Iraq "Operation Iraqi Liberation" -- which sounds just fine and descriptive and crisply military and all of that... until you read it as an acronym. Whoops! That one, obviously, had to go back to the drawing board, to be quickly reborn as "Operation Iraqi Freedom."

Our involvement with Libya has been dubbed, by these faceless Pentagon brass, as "Operation Odyssey Dawn." Um... OK. At least it doesn't create an embarrassing acronym, I guess. But seriously, is this the best we can do? Salon has put together the snarkiest commentary on this name from the mediasphere, which I simply cannot top (funniest yet: "a Yes album" and "the name of one of Frank Zappa's kids").

But surely we here at Friday Talking Points can lend a hand to the Pentagon, right? So I am opening a contest to rename our Libyan war. Ooops... as far as the White House is concerned (this may help you to come up with your entry), it is apparently supposed to be called "a limited humanitarian intervention," or a phase of "kinetic military action," and not a "war." Uh... OK... but someone (say, someone under the age of 40) really should check into what the acronym "KMA" is used for these days, before we get all kinetic here.

Hate the name "Operation Odyssey Dawn"? Think it's silly? Then I fully invite everyone to suggest your own name for our Libyan adventure (kinetic or not). Be creative! Points will be given for hilarity, and extra points for creating good acronyms. Winners will be announced next week, right here. Prizes, as usual, will be of the "virtual" (or "non-existent") variety, with the exception of bragging rights in the comments, of course.

And if you don't win, take heart! The way the dominoes are falling all over the region, perhaps we'll have another one of these contests soon, with a country that begins with a different letter! Already, "Y" and "B" and "S" and "J" seem to be good candidates, although probably not "SA" or even "I"....

To get everyone started, I will offer up my entry, which will be immediately disqualified from winning (since it'd be hard not to be biased in the judging). Since our entire government was on vacation (at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue), I am thinking: "The Spring Break War."

But surely you can do better than this, right?


[Continue reading this full article at, complete with a much more serious discussion on the war, our weekly award picks for "most impressive" and "most disappointing" Democrats, and our weekly talking points section.]


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