#JediMindMeld drama continues
March 2nd, 2013
12:40 PM ET
10 years ago

#JediMindMeld drama continues

(CNN) -– One person described it as the “ultimate nerd sin.” Others didn’t think it’s so bad. But President Barack Obama took heat online for tangling the Jedi mind trick with the Vulcan mind meld.

Obama said Friday he didn't have the power to "somehow do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right" on reaching a deal to avert the forced budget cuts known in Washington as the sequester. The comment came in response to a question from CNN chief White House correspondent Jessica Yellin after the president met with top congressional leaders from both parties.

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Perhaps because he touched a nerd nerve – or maybe because Jedis are far more interesting than debating government spending – the comments sparked a storm of reaction from “Star Trek” stars, fans of both films and a keenly interested online community.

George Takei, who played Mr. Sulu on “Star Trek,” initially posted this quip to Facebook: “A ‘Jedi mind meld’ Mr. President? Really? One more like that and I will Spock you like a hurricane.”

He later took that post down and came to Obama’s defense in an interview on MSNBC.

“Jedis are the guardians of peace and justice and ‘mind meld’ is the Vulcan way of having the force of pure, clean communication between one mind and the other,” he explained. “Well, that’s what the president is trying to do – bring those two forces together. And with that kind of guardianship of peace and harmony and justice, and bringing powerful minds together and communicating purely, you can find the rational answer, and that’s finding common ground, and that’s what they’ve got to do.”

Takei isn’t a nonpartisan watcher, though. He described Republicans as “comparable to Klingons to deal with,” invoking the ruthless warriors in “Star Trek.”

One of his fellow stars weighed in on Friday. Leonard Nimoy, who played Spock in “Star Trek,” wrote on Twitter in a comment that was retweeted over 2,600 times:

On Friday, the online comments ranged from shock that the president would reference the films to calls for his impeachment to those who came to his defense. After all,

And some wondered if he could muster the forces to reach a deal between the two parties, which had so far been elusive:

But the issue didn’t live only in social media.

Chris Peterson, a research assistant and Web communications specialist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, wrote in a blog post, “I now reluctantly but firmly step forward in defense of my President against these reckless and ill-founded accusations.”

After documenting a way of connecting minds known as the Jedi meld in “Star Wars” fiction, Peterson wrote that “Jedi mind meld … was the right reference for Obama to make” because neither the “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” reference alone “fully captures what Obama was suggesting.”

Obama has his own “Wars” and “Trek” credibility. He’s invited actress Nichelle Nichols - the actress who played Lt. Uhura - to the White House, where he demonstrated the Vulcan salute.

He wielded a light saber when sparring with Olympic fencer Tim Morehouse in 2009.

The president also said in a 2011 speech at Northern Michigan University after viewing technology teachers’ use to teach classes online, "I felt like the guy in ‘Star Trek.’ I was being beamed around across the Upper Peninsula."

And the White House fights back against the criticism with this tweet:

The Web address links to his plan to avert the cuts.

But for those who aren’t satisfied, there’s a petition on the White House website:

“We the people of the United States of America, and Star Wars and Star Trek fans the world over respectfully request that President Obama or a representative of his Administration Apologize for his mash-up of the two cannons when on March 1st 2013 when giving a speech addressing the Sequester said "Jedi mind-meld" when giving an answer,” it reads. “We understand the stress the Job of President of the United-States can put on an individual and we understand press conferences are difficult to give. However this is extremely important and warrants clarification on if he intended to say Vulcan Mind Meld or Jedi Mind trick as we must know which he is truly a fan of.”

So far, it has only 37 signatures.

- CNN’s Lesa Jansen contributed to this report

Filed under: Budget • Deficit • President Obama
soundoff (19 Responses)
  1. Woman In California

    “We understand the stress the Job of President of the United-States can put on an individual and we understand press conferences are difficult to give. However this is extremely important and warrants clarification on if he intended to say Vulcan Mind Meld or Jedi Mind trick as we must know which he is truly a fan of.”

    America sure knows her priorities. Lord have mercy. Please.

    March 2, 2013 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  2. C. Harriott-Walker

    I can't believe there's a whole article on this. Really?!? I was trying to find an article on Jessica Yellin's question to the President, about locking Boenher and McConnell in a room with him until they came up with a deal and instead I got this. I think CNN (and others) are missing the point – which seems to be the norm: Boehner and McConnell felt they had better things to do than hammer out a deal with the President (like watch the U.S. fall apart from their home districts). Regardless of what mind trick or meld, or combination of the two, the President can't get these two to be productive and not plunge the U.S. into economic destruction. Boehner and McConnell just can't play nicely in the sand box – shame!

    Now for the reason I was looking for an article on Jessica Yellin's question: Jessica, you live in a democracy, albeit barely functioning. If you want a dictator for a leader, where he can keep people in a room against their will or impose his own set of rules without consulting other elected members of government, there are places you can go. But you have to admit that if the President did do what you had asked, that you and your media colleagues would be the first to call the President a dictator and that he's undemocratic and therefore, should not be President. You can't have it both ways. And despite what FOX (loosely) News says, I know you were seriously asking the President the question since you were also trying to ask a follow up question as well, and not jokingly as FOX suggests. I really hope the next time you're able to ask the President a question about what is going on within your "perfect union", you'll ask a more substantive question – maybe about how much the sequester will cost the U.S. economy or the potential to further impact the country's credit, like the fiscal cliff debacle did? Or maybe how the reputation and credibility of the U.S. as being the ideal democracy and greatest nation on earth may be damaged internationally when yours is so broken? Maybe you should ask the President, in light of recent gerrymandering tactics and voter rights restrictions by individual states to manipulate voting results, whether the U.N. should observe U.S. elections to ensure and protect the voting rights of citizens who wish to cast their vote freely (and in a reasonable amount of time) and have their votes counted, or if the U.S. has the right to send electoral observers to other countries as part of the U.N. when U.S. elections are marred in such controversy? I dare you to ask such a questions. Humour me!

    Also, just in case you were unaware, the President (nor anyone else for that matter) can't keep people in a room if they don't want to be there – it's called forcible confinement and it's against the law.

    March 2, 2013 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
  3. Rick McDaniel

    The reason for the reference, is more obscure than it appears. Obama wants to be a Hollywood celeb......and he is working towards that end. He also owes Hollywood for the very fact he even kept his job, because his performance has been worse than dismal.

    It is sad, when a President, is more interested in being a celeb, than in doing the job of running the country.

    March 2, 2013 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  4. Namesusy busse

    Well said Mr sulu! Carry on.

    March 2, 2013 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  5. jpmichigan

    Just one more point to have to put up with, this is not a joke Mr. President , as with Humpty Dumpty, when you fall (make a mistake, YOUR SEQUESTER) all the Kings Men can not put on top again and correct the fact that you hold NO LEADERSHIP SKILLS.

    March 2, 2013 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  6. proudmemberofglobalzero

    And this important why?

    March 2, 2013 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  7. Selendis

    I am as much of a sucker as anyone for the ridiculous ideology that there is a separation between Star Wars fans and Star Trek fans, but really? More proof that in this day and age, people will choose to be offended by anything.
    Live long and prosper

    March 2, 2013 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  8. Anonymous

    It seems to me,that if Congress would allow Obama to get started on infrastructure it will put a lot of good paying jobs out there and will make a huge contrabution in bringing down our debt. What they have just done is only make our recession so much worse. I feel there are times we have to spend money to make money, and this is one of them. Iunderstand the republicans dont like Obama,but I guess they dont care about what happens to our country either.

    March 2, 2013 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  9. Barry Kort

    A little Haiku

    Sword of Damocles
    Beware of Reichenbach Falls
    Off the cliff we go

    March 2, 2013 02:40 pm at 2:40 pm |
  10. Hal Atosis

    This. is what happens when Barry goes off the Teleprompter and pulls a Biden

    March 2, 2013 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  11. Name lynn

    Its not time to play with people, obama needs to do what is right about the budget cuts.Please media an news cast put your mind to work not to play.

    March 2, 2013 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  12. SugarKube

    Obama can't even get his si-fi right.

    March 2, 2013 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  13. Alex Mickle

    And there is such a thing as a Jedi Mind meld. He didn't fail. He's just more of a nerd than a movie nerd.. He's read the extended universe.

    March 2, 2013 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Kathy

    Nerds are the worst.

    March 2, 2013 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Gregory Faith

    Too funny! Live long and prosper...............Only after they get their acts together and work this all out!!

    March 2, 2013 03:31 pm at 3:31 pm |
  16. basedonfact

    If only people felt that congress inaction was a bigger problem than the president's word choice

    March 2, 2013 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  17. Southbound Jones

    Move along now. This isn't the president we're looking for.

    March 2, 2013 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  18. dark poet

    Oh suddenly someone is a "Nerd" if they know something that has been fact for 40 years? Excuse some people for actually knowing what they are talking about before opening their mouth trying to pretend like they do like our president!

    March 2, 2013 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  19. Mort

    He makes a lot of mistakes and we pay for them.

    March 2, 2013 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |