Bill Maher's 'Operation Desert Stormy' Quip Leads Skepticism About Syria Strikes

People will wonder if the strikes were meant at least partly as a distraction from White House scandals, said Rachel Maddow.

Some media pundits and one comedy host suggested Friday night that President Donald Trump’s decision to launch military strikes in Syria could be driven in part by his desire to distract America from the mounting scandals plaguing his White House.

Bill Maher quipped on “Real Time” that the military action against Syria should be called “Operation Desert Stormy” — for Stormy Daniels, the adult entertainment actress who says she had an affair with Trump.

Maher joked that Trump got the “go-ahead” for the strikes from “Fox & Friends.” Program co-host Ainsley Earhardt had asked early Friday, “If the president and France and the U.K. decide to strike Syria, don’t you think that story would be a bigger story than [former FBI Director James] Comey’s book that’s going to be released on Tuesday?”

On MSNBC, host Rachel Maddow noted more seriously that, regardless of the president’s true motivations, many may perceive the strikes as a deliberate distraction from his domestic problems.

“It is worth considering on a night like tonight that there are national security consequences to having a presidency that is as chaotic as Mr. Trump’s presidency, a presidency that is as consumed by scandal and criminal intrigue as his presidency is,” Maddow told viewers on Friday following Trump’s announcement.

“Even if you give the president every benefit of the doubt ... what else is going on in the president’s life right now unavoidably creates a real perception around the globe that that may have been part of the motivation both for what he did and particularly for when he did it,” she said.

The “perception that the president may have made these strikes in part because of scandal will affect the impact and the effectiveness of these military strikes — unavoidably,” Maddow added.

“It is a sad thing and it is an upsetting thing in terms of American influence in the world and the risks that we take when we use American military power anywhere.”

CNN’s Ana Navarro walked the line of both questioning Trump’s motivations and railing against a chemical weapons attack on a civilian population.

Merriam-Webster’s Twitter site reported a huge jump in searches for “tail wagging the dog” or “wag the dog,” which is what many people suggested had just happened.

Trump said Friday night that the operation would be “sustained” until the Syrian regime stopped using chemical weapons. But Defense Secretary Jim Mattis described it as a single wave of three strikes that was, for now, complete.