Dear President Obama ... you’re taking the Spock thing too far. Even Spock knew that logic wasn’t always the answer.
Dear President Obama,
So the midterm elections didn’t go your way.
The next day, you said you regarded the election results as a “shellacking,” apparently channeling your predecessor’s preference for the common man’s lingo. (President Bush declared his 2006 rebuke a “thumping.”)
But we’re nevertheless hearing an old charge from the pundits: You’re too cool, too removed, too logical. I used to disagree, and I welcomed an analytical presence piloting our ship of state.
But now there’s chaos on the bridge and someone has to just come out and say it: You’re taking the Spock thing too far.
As you no doubt know, people have been comparing you to the “Star Trek” character for quite some time, though the metaphor really went into warp drive last year when the latest “Star Trek” movie was released.
New York Times writer Maureen Dowd referred to you as “President Spock,” and I even saw where Associated Press writer Seth Borenstein mentioned your “prominent ears” in his version of the Spock story.
To Borenstein’s credit, he also went where no reporter seems to have gone before: to the original Mr. Spock, actor Leonard Nimoy.
“I guess it’s somewhat unusual for a politician to be so precise, logical, in his thought process,” Nimoy told the AP. “The comparison to Spock is, in my opinion, a compliment to him and to the character.”
Smart? Analytical? Reserved? Who wouldn’t find a comparison to Spock complimentary? I know I would.
Like you, I grew up on “Star Trek.” (I imagine a young Barry Obama making the “hiss” sound every time he went through a doorway — not that I’d know anything about that.)
But even Spock knew that logic wasn’t always the answer. Sometimes it was because his human emotions overcame him. Like you, Mr. President, Spock was the product of a famously mixed marriage, though in his case it was a human mother and an alien father (no doubt the 23rd-century “birther” movement would have had a field day).
Other times, Capt. Kirk would persuade (or provoke) Spock into acting with his heart instead of his head.
There’s always a great moment in nearly every “Star Trek” movie when the U.S.S. Enterprise has been taking a beating at the hands of an opponent. Just before all is lost, they figure out some way to exploit the enemy’s weakness. The camera zooms in on one of our heroes, there’s a split-second pause, and then he gives the order in an intense, low grumble: “Fire.”
The wording and details vary from movie to movie, but the scene is pretty much a sure thing. In the most recent “Star Trek” movie, it happens when the Enterprise already has the enemy ship on the defensive and Capt. Kirk offers to rescue the enemy crew.
“I would rather die in agony than accept assistance from you,” the enemy commander says. The camera moves in on Spock and Kirk, who deliver the reply: “You’ve got it.”
Mr. President, this is Kirk calling: Once, just once, I’d like to see you get satisfaction like that on behalf of our economically and psychologically depressed nation.
I picture it happening at a meeting of greedy Wall Street types. Perhaps you could ask them to forgo their bonuses or stop evicting people from their homes in exchange for your administration not prosecuting what some have called criminal wrongdoing.
They’ll no doubt say something about personal responsibility and things working out on their own under our free market system. If you’re lucky, maybe one of them will say he’d rather be poor and in jail than take advice from you.
The camera would zoom in, you’d pause, and then you would say: “You’ve got it.”
Brian Mackey can be reached at email@example.com.