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Jedi? Vulcan? Mind Meld? Mind Trick? What Was Obama Thinking?

Mar 1, 2013
Originally published on March 1, 2013 8:53 pm

He can't do "a Jedi mind meld" with Republicans and get them to see his way about taxes and spending, President Obama said Friday.

About which CBS News' Mark Knoller immediately tweeted:

"Pres Obama Mixed Metaphor of the Day: The 'mind meld' is not a Jedi tool from Star Wars, but a Vulcan ability from Star Trek."

OK, at the risk of being deluged with messages from Star Wars and Star Trek fans but in the hope we can provide a little saber light, we'll enter this risky territory.

The mind meld, as Trekkies will tell you, is a technique "that allows a Vulcan to merge his or her mind with the essence of another's mind purely by using specialized contact fingertip-points."

Jedi knights, from Star Wars, are of course known for their mind tricks — "a spectrum of Force powers which influenced the thoughts of sentient creatures, most commonly used to coerce into agreement by suggestion through voice manipulation, or to cause one to reveal information," as the Star Wars Wikia says.

There is, according to the Star Wars Wikia, something called a "force meld" or "Jedi meld." It's "a technique where a number of Force users joined their minds together through the Force, drawing strength from each other."

Now, though we can't read the president's mind, we think we know what he was trying to say. Obama noted that some seem to believe he can do "a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right." To us, it sounds like he meant Jedi mind trick — as in, influencing the Republicans' thoughts.

But we'd have to be able to meld with his mind to know for sure. If only Spock were here to help.

Update at 3:52 White House Responds:

As expected, the White House has responded to the mixed metaphor by tweeting this graphic:

Notice, that they continue mixing metaphors and this time they are very much doing it on purpose. (Note the different typeface.)

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Obama just lost the nerd vote. That was one of the many tweets after the president committed a cardinal sin at his press conference today. He conflated "Star Wars" and "Star Trek." And you just don't do that.

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

The president was asked why he couldn't just stop congressional leaders from leaving their meeting with him until there was a sequester deal. He responded he couldn't just...

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Do a Jedi mind meld with these folks and convince them to do what's right.

CORNISH: A Jedi mind meld. Politifact quickly retweeted one of the many corrections: It's a Jedi mind trick or a Vulcan mind meld, not a Jedi mind meld. And for those who may not be clear on the difference, we'd like to use this sci-fi faux pas as a teachable moment.

BLOCK: The "Star Wars" Jedi mind trick is when you influence someone's thoughts. For example...

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "STAR WARS")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Stormtrooper) Let me see your identification.

ALEC GUINNESS: (as Obi-Wan Kenobi) You don't need to see his identification.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Stormtrooper ) We don't need to see his identification.

GUINNESS: (as Obi-Wan Kenobi) These aren't the droids you're looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (as Stormtrooper) These aren't the droids we're looking for.

BLOCK: As for "Star Trek's" Vulcan mind meld...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "STAR TREK")

LEONARD NIMOY: (as Spock) Captain, you're aware of the Vulcan technique of the joining of two minds.

BLOCK: A technique that can sometimes be quite unpleasant.

(SOUNDBITE OF SCREAMING)

CORNISH: So we're guessing the president really meant to say he couldn't do a Jedi mind trick because a Vulcan mind meld with congressional leaders...

(SOUNDBITE OF TV SERIES, "STAR TREK")

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: (as character) Pain.

CORNISH: Not pretty. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.