Jedi Mind Meld

President Obama tried to drop a gratuitous nerd culture reference in a press conference about serious business, and blew it. He said earlier today he couldn't perform a “Jedi mind meld” on the GOP, an amalgam of “Jedi mind trick” and “Vulcan mind meld.” Regarding negotiations with Congress over issues like averting the sequester, Obama drew further Twitter mockery with the line, “I am not a dictator. I’m the president.”

Nevermind the GOP, now the president has the wrath of pedantic Trekkies and Star Wars buffs to confront. To scan the stormy horizon of nerdrage, skim the #ObamaSciFiQuotes hashtag results on Twitter.

Obama once even made a Boing Boing reference, in a 2011 speech:

And while I know I have my share of critics out there, I don't focus on the negative stuff. I just don't pay much attention to it. Most days I barely skim through the comment section of Huffington Post — Daily Kos — Fire Dog Lake — The Daily Dish — (Laughter.)

John Hodgman exposed the President's lack of Nerd Cred long ago.

This is not the administration's first attempt to drop deep-geek references in conspicuous moments: the White House has previously quoted Vader.

Now that "Star Trek" motion picture director JJ Abrams is signed on for the new "Star Wars" sequel, perhaps the President wasn't that far off.

Is anyone else depressed by the fact that more of our peers seem more outraged about the "mind meld" remark than the automatic spending cuts that will begin kicking in today, affecting middle-class workers and families the most? Or, you know, the Bradley Manning trial nobody's paying attention to?

Above: @capnmarrrrk found the Star Wars/Trek/Frazetta image to rule them all. Anyone know who did it, or have a higher rez?

UPDATE: Perhaps he knew exactly what he was saying, and is nerdier than thou. (HT: Chris Peterson)

UPDATE 2: And the White House seizes the meme day.


  1. While it probably was an error, I am going to instead treat the comment
    as a skillful blending of of the two tropes and their underlying mechanisms and connotations ,
    applied to the facts of the budget/sequester scenario.  It works very

      1. Or brain science!

        …joke’s on me, apparently saying something as though it were funny only works in real life…

        1. Nope, you are demonstrably incorrect. I giggled. Your comment was funny. It registered around 1.9 on the Cooper Scale (its logarithmic).

  2. Instead of a car wreck, Obama had a Star Wrek.

    Also, I’m pretty sure the GOP already did a Jedi mind meld on him.

  3. Quoting @indecision, “maybe Obama only confused Star Wars and Star Trek to get the Internet to finally care about sequestration.”

    1. “Sequestration”? Is that what happened when Captain Nathan Bridger got his man junk caught in the zipper on his Seaquest DSV overalls?

        1. Unless, due to highly skilful piloting, Solo was able to take a shorter than normal route through the area.

          Han shot first…

          1.  I didn’t like the Wired dissection of Han’s claim, considering they made no attempt to actually take into consideration the Falcon’s warp drive. But then (afaik) Star Wars Warp Drives are much less explored than Trek drives, so perhaps he just didn’t have much to go on.

        2. In warp drive, a ship is locally at rest. So actually warp 9 would have made han’s comment quite sensible

    1. It’s a very common pronunciation.  In fact, a very well-known nuclear scientist pronounces it noo-kew-lur. You may have heard of him – Jimmy Carter? Former President?

        1.  How common does a different pronunciation have to become before it’s the actual common one?

  4. I couldn’t agree more with your last remark, Xeni. I work for a German news website and in our forum, the outrage about the Star Wars 1313 development being put on hold was a whole lot bigger than about the Manning trial… It drives me insane, but I have no idea what I can do about it instead of cover the important stuff for the few people who do care.

    1.  The Manning trial fills me with disappointment in all of humanity.  Star Wars fills me with disappointment in only George Lucas.  I’m trying to minimize the risk of my emotional investments in response to the moral bear market we are experiencing.

        1.  “Number One, I command you to take a number two. And fire the fruiton torpedoes, and make us go over that way…”

    1. That was my thought:  who made such a terrible mistrake in that picture?  Phasers don’t emit a beam of light!  (Or they do, depending on which series/ move :-)  )

    1.  except that doesn’t work in context… at all.

      Jedi Mind trick DOES work in context; if he said that.  A Battle Meditation used by Jedi allies isn’t what you’d do to force the opposition to do what you want.

      So maybe he’s both more of a nerd than we imagine, and making incoherent statements?

      I think he’d prefer to have you assume he misspoke and not that he’s incapable of making a sentence that makes sense.

      1.  If he could use a Force Meld with other Democrats, he might be able to coordinate a more effective campaign

        1. Read the actual definition and usage.

          The Jedi Meld is used for 3 purposes.

          1) To communicate over great distances… not useful here.

          2) To increase the power of all the members… not useful here UNLESS you’re arguing Obama wants stronger opposition.

          3) For the majority collective of the meld to persuade the lone dissident… and Obama would be that dissident.  Not useful here UNLESS you’re arguying that Obama wants to have HIS MIND changed so he thinks he’s wrong.

          NONE OF THAT helps with the context where Obama would be using that with those who OPPOSE HIS PLANS.

          Yes the term exists; no it doesn’t make any sense in context with what Obama said.

          You can find a guy from MIT going “hey, there is a term” all you want… it still doesn’t make sense in context. 

          Unless the context is “Obama hopes the opposition wins and he loses the budget fight” Jedi Meld doesn’t work in context.

          1. I think you missed the “Great moments in pedantry” bit 

            slavish attention to rules, details, etc.

  5. Important Advisor: OK, Mister President, we have a tricky situation here. You need to make a pop culture reference without seeming like one of those BoingbOING commenters.

    Obama: Got it covered. 

  6. First, the art with this story is frightening, amazing and embarrassing and vulgar. I love it, but feel guilty for it.
    Second: I wil now use the phrase “Rocket Surgery” as often as I possibly can, just to demonstrate that I am not the sharpest light bulb in the tool shed.

    1. Referring to said blog as The Boing! makes it sound like a place that would feature boobs a lot more often…or a musical about the invention of the spring

  7. “Rocket Surgery” has been a meme in it’s own right for a while, I think. Somebody gave me a t-shirt years ago with that saying on it. “Jedi Mind Meld” therefore is a natural.

    At least Obama doesn’t seem to resent the fact that he’s not a dictator as much as Dub did. 

  8. BREAKING! Obama reveals that he’s been working on SW/ST crossover fanfic; regrets nothing because nerds are cool.

    Asked for comment, John  McCain wonders what episode of Rocky Jones: Space Ranger these Jed-eye appeared in.

  9. UPDATE: Perhaps he knew exactly what he was saying, and is nerdier than thou. (HT: Chris Peterson)

    Right, he was using a battle meditation power used between allies to forcibly change the minds of the opposition… because that makes sense.

    Nope… if he MEANT that term he used it completely wrong… if he MEANT Jedi Mind Trick, he just misspoke, but had a meaningful statement and not gibberish.

    I’m guessing he didn’t mean to make a meaningless confusing statement.

    1. It makes total sense if you assume that Obama also subscribes to Latourian metaphysics. 

  10. barack didn’t “blow it”. He just avoided seeming like a geek – and it’s actually a good combination (vulcan / jedi)

  11. I just finished marathoning House of Cards, which makes me feel cynical about things like this being honest mistakes – Obama is not exactly known for making flubs (not that he’s never done so). 

    Interestingly, it seems to have worked as a distraction from the sequester debate, but it’s also drawing attention to it at the same time. I am not sure I would have heard anything about the press conference if this hadn’t happened (I normally stay well-informed and probably would have heard it on NPR – if I drive anywhere today, which I might not – but I have a lot of other things on my plate at the moment and I’m not sure why I’m even wasting time on this comment).

    Also, I, for one, don’t mind knowing that Obama isn’t actually a nerd or a geek. At least he’s aware of our existence and attempts to pander to us sometimes, which is a lot more than can be said for most politicians. Whether or not that counts for anything when it comes to legislation and so on that may be important to us… well that’s another discussion altogether. If nothing else, now we know how it must feel to be part of one of the groups that are normally targets for pandering from politicians, which is informative. It’s also informative to note who falls for the pandering and who doesn’t (depending on the cynicism inherent in the pandering… the Death Star petition response, for example, was all in good fun).

    1. Seriously, works as a distraction from the sequestration? Perhaps for people that read BoingBoing and Slashdot, but really? Flub, and they owned it.

  12. Gah, you had one job, White House Twitter person. One. Job. The correct tweet was:

    “Our Prime Directive is to bring balance to the Force.”

    That’s it. Done. But no. Of course not.

  13. What the hell is the matter with you people?!

    Obamas remark was simply a brilliant piece of realpolitik statecraft.

    That picture on the other hand…the overly muscled arm shooting phaser into stratosphere for no apparent reason, impressively endowed woman presenting mammaries for the universe to suckle…I’m ok with that.

    But the Star Fleet emblem on his bare chest?  No. 

    Upon further thought, a Vulcan wouldn’t give a tribbles hair for the discomfort thereof…

  14. George Takei of Star Trek fame absolved the President last night on The Ed Show by efficiently melding the two tropes. There is so much popular culture out there. The President was in the right Church but the wrong Pew.

  15. Is anyone else depressed by the fact that more of our peers seem more outraged about the “mind meld” remark than the automatic spending cuts that will begin kicking in today, affecting middle-class workers and families the most?

    No, because I can tell the difference between satirical mock outrage and serious outrage, so getting depressed over a bunch of my fellow nerds have a laugh to relieve some tension seems like it would be a poor judgment call on my part. I’m afraid I don’t accept your implied thesis that we can’t laugh at his nerd faux pas (even while appreciating the effort) and be outraged at our dysfunctional government at the same time. As for any nerds who are seriously
    outraged at this…I feel more sorry for them than depressed.

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