Today, President Obama remarked, off-the-cuff, on the subject of sequester, that he could not manage a “Jedi mind meld.”
“Even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable; that most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal; the fact they don’t take it means I should somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right,” he said.
Stop the presses! It’s Vulcan Mind Meld. It’s Jedi Mind Trick. As everyone has already noted, irately.
But this matters.
I’m not just saying this because I am part of the Vast Media Conspiracy To Talk About Anything But the Sequester. That is only a secondary reason.
The president has gotten a lot of mileage from us nerds. But how justly? He’s bristled at having his language called Spock-like (“First of all, the reference to Spock, was that a crack on my ears?”) He told Barbara Walters point-blank that the biggest misconception about him was “me being detached or Spock-like, or very analytical.” All he ever does is deny science fiction comparisons and opportunities when they are presented to him. He insists that he is incapable of a mind meld, or a Jedi mind trick for that matter, or even a Jedi Mind Meld (which, according to Wookieepedia, exists in the Expanded Universe, but somehow I doubt is what he meant). He won’t even let us have a Death Star. As Benjy Sarlin quipped: “Perhaps someone should resubmit the Death Star petition, it’s possible Obama thought it was a phaser or something.”
Yes, his White House has responded in appropriately nerdy fashion to the petition, but that was not the president’s doing, but the doing of a hero named Paul Shawcross. The White House itself is clearly full of nerds — their official Twitter acknowledged the controversy, tweeting that “These cuts aren’t the solutions Americans are looking for…. To deny the facts would be illogical.”
But it’s the president I’m worried about.
So given recent events, here’s a re-submission of the petition:
Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star Enterprise Thing by 2016.
Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016.
By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense. Also, gotta get rid of those pesky Klingons! So say we all. Do or do not — there is no tricorder.
Obeisance to the nerds is mandatory. Nerds run our culture these days. Jocks? What jocks? They’re just more people who are going to be forced to sit through the Ant-man movie. There’s an Ant-man movie, for crying out loud. Don’t tell me Nerd Culture isn’t mainstream culture. It’s beaten up mainstream culture and is taking its lunch money.
And President Obama, who was once heralded as potentially the “First Nerd President” is proving to be Nerd-Adjacent, at best. As one of his high school friends noted, “He’s a geek because he was smart.” That’s not a particularly high bar. Yes, he gave Leonard Nimoy the Vulcan salute, but you don’t have to be a nerd for that. Yes, he used to collect comic books. But when he hosts a pick-up game, it’s always basketball, never Dungeons & Dragons. When he has a day off, it’s the golf links, not the convention halls. If an actual nerd were in the White House, the guest list would look a bit different — forget the famous musicians. Get Mark Hamill and make him do the Joker laugh again. Get George Lucas and reprimand him and cry a lot. (Maybe that’s just my list.)
In retrospect, all the things cited by E! Online in painting him the Commander in Geek look a bit thin. Did he confuse lithium and dilithium crystals? Maybe he did. If he confuses Star Trek and Star Wars, he could confuse anything! He posed in front of a Superman statue? Are you sure that’s a geek thing? It’s not as though he owned the statue. If that’s the bar, then dozens of tourists are geeks.
Then again, geek culture is so mainstream that perhaps the iconic Comic Book guy with his muttering and collections is no longer the example we should look to. Just look at the volume of sci-fi ire coming from the news corps. You can have other elements to your personality, now, thanks to the Internet’s handy revelation that we all have a little geek in us, on some subject. It no longer has to be a full-time job or your defining characteristic.
This is a relatively recent development — just as, in the past eight years, we’ve gone from finding a Blackberry impressive to finding it embarrassing. I think something similar has happened to the President’s geekishness. It’s gone from “Impressive… most impressive” to, “Hey, size matters not.”
Still, he should be better than this. That’s a wookiee mistake. This nerd deal is getting worse all the time.