The Obama White House knew, of course, that creating a web-based system for ordinary citizens to call on the government to do something, and promising a response if 25,000 people or more sign an online petition within 30 days, would inevitably produce some silliness. There’s a reason we’re not a direct democracy, no matter how dysfunctional Congress has become. There have been some serious matters raised, such as MPAA Chris Dodd’s (shocking, shocking) insinuations that the Obama campaign owed taxpayer goodies to Hollywood. And anything genuinely offensive can simply be ignored. We live in a knowing and ironic age, and what might once have seemed beneath the dignity of the White House can be an opportunity for some light-hearted national and, dare one say it, decently unpartisan fun.
Hence the official White House reaction to the petition calling upon the Obama administration to “secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016,” which garnered some 35,000 signatures. As reported by Entertainment Weekly (the only truly canonical outlets for this kind of news would have to be EW or Wired, Hollywood or Silicon Valley), here is the official administration response, from Paul Shawcross, Chief of the Science and Space Branch of OMB (we must assume this went through the interagency clearance process and perhaps even constitutes the opinio juris of the United States for purposes of international, nay interstellar, law):
“The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense,” begins Shawcross, “but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon.” He cites a Lehigh University study that calculated that a Death Star would cost a deficit-exploding $852,000,000,000,000,000 (that’s $852 quadrillion), notes that ”the Administration does not support blowing up planets,” and rightly points out that it would be foolhardy to build a space station “with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship.”
Shawcross then goes on to tout the many space endeavors, both public and private, that are currently underway. (“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.”) He concludes by encouraging the diligent soul(s) who created the petition to pursue a career in a science, technology, or math-related field, declaring that anyone who does so embraces the power of the Force: “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.”