U.S. media are now abuzz about Presient Obama’s remark, “I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks” at the press conference after sequestration meeing with Congressional leaders at the White House held on March 1st.

The Atlantic complains that President Obama confused the Jedi of “Star Wars” and the mind-melds of “Star Trek,” and predicted that the President shatters his “nerd credibility.” Reference to Jedi mind-meld came in the following statement:

"Most people agree that I’m being reasonable, that most people agree that I’m presenting a fair deal. The fact that they don’t take it, means that I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right. ---The Speaker of the House and the leader of the Senate and all those folks have responsibilities. What I can do is present the best possible case for why we need to do the right thing.”

As I’m unfamiliar with the plots of both “Star Wars” and “Star Trek,” I’m not sure of what “I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks.” means. But I guess it means that most Americans think the President should change the mind of both the Speaker of the House and the Sanate leader and other “ramaining on their ass.”

What is the exact translation of “Do a mind-meld with somebody”? Does it mean to brainwash somebody?

Is “do a Jedi, or do mind-meld” a stand-alone English expression that most English- speaking people understand and use?

  • 6
    He mixed together “Vulcan mind-meld” and “Jedi mind-trick”, pivoting on mind. Poor guy.
    – tchrist
    Mar 2 '13 at 3:06
  • 2
    "As I’m unfamiliar with the plots of both “Star Wars” and “Star Trek”" — How did you even get on the internet with so little nerd cred? You need to remedy this failing at once!
    – jwodder
    Mar 2 '13 at 3:35

I think President Obama was more likely thinking of Jedi mind control. The paradigm is established in the first Star Wars movie (now re-entitled A New Hope) where Jedi adept Obiwan Kenobi is escorting two robots whom the bad guys are seeking, and on encountering a patrol intones "These are not the droids you’re looking for" and the evil stormtrooper leading the patrol vacantly echoes "These aren’t the droids we’re looking for". Obviously, without the Jedi mind control, the patrol would have interrogated and surely captured the heroes. (I'm afraid I can't find a You Tube clip because of copyright.)

The implication here is that Obama lacks the mystical ability to force Republican members of Congress to do exactly the opposite of their apparent mission, which is to oppose tax increases of any size or nature.

The Vulcan mind meld was more often a rapid thought communication pathway than a technique of control.

  • I think you’re right. That’s why I said poor guy; he got his cultural references all cross-connected.
    – tchrist
    Mar 2 '13 at 17:23
  • @tchrist: Yeah, dealing with Boehner and McConnell is probably enough to cross anyone's wires. :-) But for the benefit of those who spend their youth more productively than re-watching SW, figured a full explanation would help. Mar 2 '13 at 17:29

No, it's not brainwashing, but the definition is readily available on the Internet:

"A 'mind-meld' is a technique for sharing thoughts, experiences, memories, and knowledge with another individual. It usually requires physical contact with a subject, though instances of mind-melds without contact have been seen (for example, in the episode 'The Devil in the Dark')."

And, no, most English-speakers don't use or understand this phrase. I've watched a few Star Wars movies, many Star Trek episodes on TV, and maybe two Star Trek movies. I like science fiction, but I'd never heard of this until today when I read the same article you did. If you use it -- and there's nothing wrong with using this kind of special phrase in normal conversation -- you 'll have to be prepared to explain it to us non-Trekkies and non-Star Wars fanatics.


I should somehow do a Jedi mind-meld with these folks and convince them to do what’s right.

I have deliberately changed your emphasis. Clearly the President was first going to perform the mind meld and then, as an additional action he was going to convince them of what is right.

How he would physically achieve a large-scale mind meld I'm not sure—I believe it requires touch—maybe he has a method that is not disclosed in the movies.

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