early and awkward

President Obama Badly Bungles Nerd Reference [Updated]

President Barack Obama uses a light saber as he watches a demonstration of fencing at an event supporting Chicago's 2016 host city Olympic bid, Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2009, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. At rear is Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and first lady Michelle Obama.
“These aren’t the spending cuts you’re looking for.” Photo: Charles Dharapak/AP/Corbis

As the sequester commenced today, President Obama appeared before the White House press corps to blame Republican intransigence for our impending economic misery and take some rare questions from reporters. Some of these questions turned out to be terrible, such as Jessica Yellin’s suggestion that Obama should simply “refuse to let [the Republicans] leave the room until you have a deal.” As DI Chait pointed out earlier this week, the idea that Obama, using vaguely defined President Powers, should be capable of forcing the Republicans to do something they’re dead set against doing, is a common Beltway fantasy, and Obama treated it as such with his response.

You know, the, uh, Jessica, I … ” Obama began, searching for a way to respond to such ridiculous advice. “I am not a dictator. I’m the president. So ultimately, if Mitch McConnell and John Boehner say ‘we need to go to catch a plane,’ I can’t have Secret Service blocking the doorway.”

Obama was making perfect sense. And then he blew it.

I know this has been some of the conventional wisdom floating around Washington,” Obama continued, “that, somehow, even though most people agree that I’m being reasonable, and most people agree I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that [the Republicans] don’t take it means that I should somehow, you know, do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.”

As nerds across America were quick to point out, a Jedi mind meld is not a thing. A Jedi mind trick can force people to do something against their will. That’s from Star Wars. A Vulcan mind meld, from Star Trek, is “a technique for sharing thoughts, experiences, memories, and knowledge with another individual,” which, we suppose, could also be somewhat helpful during negotiations. But the concept of a Jedi mind meld is patently absurd.

Ultimately, Obama’s bungled sci-fi reference will probably not have a major effect on the sequester negotiations, but it may lose him some of the nerd street cred he’d attained from his Reddit AMA.

Update, 3:25 p.m.: The White House is embracing JedimindmeldGate:

Obama Suggests Nonexistent ‘Jedi Mind Meld’