There Will Be No Death Star

obama-death-starIn one of perhaps its finest PR moves, the Obama Administration issued its response to a petition requesting the construction of a Death Star by 2016.

Huh?

For those of you in the dark (side!) it all began with a petition titled: Secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016.

“Those who sign here petition the United States government to secure funding and resources, and begin construction on a Death Star by 2016. By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense.”

Those two sentences secured more than 34,000 signatures, not enough to replace the lives decimated when we lost Alderaan but enough to trigger a response from an “appropriate policy expert” according to the We the People petition site.

So how would the Administration respond? Unfortunately not with the utterance that 34,000+ people hoped to hear as President Obama wrapped a second term in 2016 (“Now witness the firepower of this fully ARMED and OPERATIONAL battle station!”). Instead it was extremely intelligent.

You see, media outlets latched on to the petition last year for several reasons including its outlandishness and the possible failure of a petition site that was consistently not being taken seriously. While the petition captured the media’s attention the answer needed to satisfy the public with a thoughtful yet appropriate answer. The “expert” needed to walk a tightrope that’s more difficult than trying to bullseye womp rats in your T-16; letting the petitioners know that they were heard by speaking their language while selling in key messages.

The nation waited, wringing hands in anticipation of the announcement.

Enter Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget. Shawcross cited several reasons not to build a Death Star from cost (more than $850,000,000,000,000,000) to an Administration that “does not support blowing up planets”. However, Shawcross quickly shifted from the negative and spun his highlight several scientific feats that exist in our galaxy and not one far, far away.

“Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun…We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.”

Well done Shawcross! (“Do or do not. There is no try.”) So where’s the all important plug for my personal favorite educational initiative STEM?

“We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.”

With a wave of his hand Shawcross made the petitioners realize that they didn’t need to see blueprints, this wasn’t the petition they were looking for (to slightly maul a better phrase). Instead he finally reminded those in support of a Death Star that real power lies in knowledge and that “size matters not”.

“If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.”

If there was one thing Shawcross failed to mention, it might have been the logistical nightmare of building such a large structure and caring for the workers on board. Thankfully Eddie Izzard covers that in the clip below:

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