Ben Rhodes, a leading national security adviser in Barack Obama’s White House, asked a good tongue-in-cheek question this morning: “Anyone seen any breathless television or front page updates on whether the Operation Formerly Known As Operation Faithful Patriot has repelled the invasion of the United States of America?”
For those unfamiliar with the “Operation Faithful Patriot” label, it was the name the Trump administration gave to Donald Trump’s recently launched military mission at the U.S./Mexico border. The day after the midterm elections, however, military officials, without explanation, decided a name change was in order. A Pentagon spokesperson told NBC News that the operation will now simply be referred to as “border support.”
The name-change is emblematic of a larger shift on what was a Republican obsession up until a few days ago. The Washington Post’s Eugene Scott noted yesterday:
Before the midterm elections, President Trump crossed the nation warning those attending his rallies of the oncoming threat of about 7,000 Central American migrants who are traveling through Mexico to seek asylum in the United States.
While campaigning in Chattanooga, Tenn., for Republican Senate candidate Marsha Blackburn last Sunday, Trump suggested that the migrants were looking to come in and disrupt Americans’ lives.
“That’s an invasion. I don’t care what they say. I don’t care what the fake media says. That’s an invasion of our country,” he said before rally attendees began chanting “Build the wall.”
The emphasis, however, seemed to shift just as soon as the voting stopped.
The issue came up briefly during Trump’s post-election White House press conference, but only after a reporter brought it up, not because the president saw it as a major point of concern.
A cynic might wonder if maybe, just maybe, Trump exploited a bogus issue, designed to stir passions of far-right voters, relying on a strategy rooted in a combination of racism and fear. And now that Election Day has come and gone, the president no longer feels the need to keep up appearances.