Death Star Politics: the White House Response

Praise where praise is due: the White House has issued a response to the petition calling upon the U.S. to construct a Death Star. (I like to think that this is the sort of thing I would have been tasked with writing when I worked in White House correspondence in the 90s — I was the science and technology writer! — but sadly, no one sent us such a petition.) My own views on the Death Star have evolved somewhat. I don’t see it as a great investment militarily, but, unlike Koger, I generally favor construction for the technological benefits it would bring and for the massive stimulatory effect it would likely have on the economy.

Let me take on a few aspects of the White House’s response:

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.

Okay, the White House is going with the $850 quadrillion estimate, but I’ve seen estimates for $15 septillion, and my own estimate was in the low quintillions. Generally, when the White House gives you the lowest of several widely divergent cost estimates for a government project, hold onto your wallet.

But beyond that, couldn’t we just cover the cost by minting a quintillion-dollar platinum coin? Put Palpatine’s face on it.

The Administration does not support blowing up planets.

Well, they probably didn’t support using flying droids to blow up people a few years ago. But, you know, positions evolve.

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

Yes, that’s an important point, but fortunately, we have research on this. Two previous experiments have revealed flaws with easy technological workarounds, like putting a $3 metal grate over thermal exhaust ports. Oh, and don’t put it into combat situations until you’ve finished building it.

The post then goes on to describe all the admittedly laudatory space research the federal government is already supporting, but really, this is small bore stuff. A return to the Moon? Please. Neil Armstrong and a team of nerds did that with slide rules and tin foil. In the 60s.

The post concludes with this:

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.

I am really, really tired of the Obama administration foisting its anti-Christian religious messages down our throats.

One final point: why am I posting about this on a blog devoted to parties? Because there’s a great opportunity here for the Republicans that they have yet to exploit. The White House has just come down firmly against an important new military weapons system. They basically just put Dukakis in the tank. They’ve left us defenseless against our future extraterrestrial invaders. These attack ads write themselves. I predict — and welcome — massive polarization on this issue.

[Cross-posted at Mischiefs of Faction]

Seth Masket

Seth Masket is an associate professor of political science at the University of Denver.