White House responds to ‘Death Star’ petition with humor

David Martosko Executive Editor
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When the Obama administration promised to respond to petitions on its “We the People” Web page that attracted at least 25,000 signatures, White House officials never imagined they would be responding to a request for Death Star funding. But the Office of Management and Budget’s top science advisor, Paul Shawcross, found himself doing just that on Friday.

The petition, launched Nov. 14, called for “resources and funding” to “begin construction of 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,” the petition read. (RELATED: Top 10 ridiculous White House ‘We the People’ petitions, part 2)

The Death Star is a fictional battle station appearing in the original “Star Wars” movie. In the film, it can destroy a planet with a single blast from an energy-beam weapon.

“The Administration does not support blowing up planets,” Shawcross wrote in a humorous 480-word response titled “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For” — a play on a “Star Wars” movie line.

“The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it,” Shawcross added. (RELATED: Top 10 ridiculous White House ‘We the People’ petitions, part 1)

The essay, which mostly praised the U.S. space program, was chock full of other references to Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader and the Force.

“Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?” he asked.

“Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs,” Shawcross wrote, “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 are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.”

“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.”

The lightsaber reference was a flashback to a 2009 youth sporting event on the South Lawn of the White House when President Barack Obama — armed with a toy version of the Star Wars weapon — parried with Olympic silver-medalist fencer Tim Morehouse.

The marshmallow cannon was the science fair invention of an Arizona eighth-grader. Obama watched as the boy test fired it in February 2012 at the White House.


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