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Saturday, March 02, 2013

Turns out there is a Jedi Mind Meld after all

Chris Peterson, MIT Center for Civic Media:

Today, during a heated discussion on the sequester, a frustrated President Barack Obama made the following statement to the press corps as they challenged him to show more leadership in negotiations:

“I’m presenting a fair deal, the fact that they 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.”

Various commentators immediately criticized the President for, as they say, crossing the streams. Jim Kuhnhenn of the Associated Press wrote that Obama “…mixed his sci-fi metaphors…The Jedi reference comes from Star Wars, and the mind meld from Star Trek.” Xeni Jardin of BoingBoing wrote that the President “tried to drop a gratuitous nerd culture reference…and blew it.” #ObamaSciFiQuotes began trending on Twitter, mocking Obama for his apparent misstep.

Out of a nascent sense of patriotism, and animated by the spirit of my friend Matt Stempeck’s LazyTruth, I now reluctantly but firmly step forward in defense of my President against these reckless and ill-founded accusations. Obama did not, as Jardin claimed, “blow” his reference: he was more correct than any of his critics could possibly imagine.

First, as a friend pointed out, there is a Jedi Meld well established within the admittedly capacious but nonetheless official contours of the Star Wars: Expanded Universe. In Outbound Flight, a novel written by the prolific Timothy Zahn, the Jedi Master Jorus C’baoth instructs a young Anakin Skywalker that the Jedi Meld “permits a group of Jedi to connect their minds so closely as to act as a single person.” (emphasis added)

According to Wookieepedia, the Jedi Meld was deployed by dozens of Jedi, including (but not limited to) Obi-Wan Kenobi, Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker, Mara Jade Skywalker, and Anakin, Jacen, and Jaina Solo, across dozens officially-licensed books. Indeed, its recovery and redevelopment, principally by the Solo children, was an important turning point in the Yuuzhan Vong War as chronicled exhaustively in the New Jedi Order series.

But not only is the Jedi Meld, through general acceptance and uncontroversial use, authoritatively established within the official Star Wars universe: it was the right reference for Obama to make.

Of course, no one’s seriously suggesting that the President made an arcane, deep-nerdian reference in comments to a White House press corps who probably never even heard of Wookieepedia. this is all tongue in cheek, right?

“Far from being a mistake, mixed metaphor, or slip-of-the-tongue, Obama’s extemporaneous invocation of ‘Jedi Meld’ was precisely on point, simultaneously displaying his nuanced and considerable command of the finer details of both actor-network theory and the Star Wars: Expanded Universe,” Peterson writes. “Instead of mocking him from the comfort of our replica X-wing armchairs, as nerds and citizens we should be honored and awed by a commander-in-chief who offhandedly deploys such concepts in the public discourse.”

When the President uses force lightning on John Boehner, then I’ll be awed.

[photo via JD Hancock]

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