If Obama hoped to be little more than a weekend warrior in Libya, he picked the wrong name for the operation.
In Homer's Odyssey, protagonist Odysseus spends 10 years trying to reach Ithaca, encountering sirens and a cyclops along the way.
In President Obama's "odyssey," the U.S. military gets involved in a limited engagement against the "mad dog" of the Middle East -- only one that's supposed to settle down in a matter of days.
As the U.S. military now concedes, perhaps "Operation Odyssey Dawn" wasn't the best name for this supposedly in-and-out mission.
"We probably should have chosen something else, because people have read into that -- some type of long, enduring voyage," Eric Elliott, spokesman for U.S. Africa Command, told FoxNews.com.
It's anything but, the administration insists. With NATO taking partial control, U.S. officials claim the United States will soon be flying shotgun despite myriad concerns about Muammar al-Qaddafi's staying power and the extent to which America would use force to unseat him.
But with a name like "odyssey," it's hard to make that case.
The title of what may or may not be the United States' third concurrent war in a Muslim country rings of something epic. Like a Greek poem. Like a prog rock song (see The Dixie Dregs' seven-and-a-half-minute "Odyssey"). Like a convoluted Stanley Kubrick film that leaves viewers bewildered and unfulfilled.
Or, as Jon Stewart noted, like the title of a Yes album.
Or, as Stephen Colbert mused, "a Carnival cruise ship."
"I have to surrender to America before they threaten me with unlimited shrimp!" Colbert exclaimed on Comedy Central.
As others have pointed out, Obama has essentially put the U.S. in a no-win situation in Libya by claiming that the goal of the military operation is not to remove Qaddafi from power. Obama has said that Qaddafi "must leave" but he seems to be under the impression that saying such things (without backing them up with force) will somehow make them so. Maybe that's how it works in America when community activists make enough noise with the help of a supportive press, but foreign dictators are rarely so accommodating.
Beyond that, Obama seems to be sowing seeds for the advancement of radical Islam in Libya. The Muslim Brotherhood is already showing signs of strength in Egypt, where Obama strongly backed regime change despite the fact that it would likely advance the goals of radical Islamist elements in Egypt.
If the confused start of the Libya operation is any indication, the odds of reaching a happy endgame here are low.
While history might somehow defy the odds, Obama does not exactly have a track record of pulling victory from the jaws of defeat, or of turning straw into gold. Quite the opposite. The journey to the end of Obama's term in office is itself proving to be a long and difficult "oddyssey."