Search This Blog

Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Obama and Spock

After the passing of Leonard Nimoy, President Obama said:  "I loved Spock."

Indeed, comparisons between the president and the Vulcan have long been a staple of mass media:

President Obama, interview with Newsweek's Jon Meacham, May 15, 2009
Now, movies I've been doing OK [with] because it turns out we got this nice theater on the ground floor of my house … So Star Trek, we saw this weekend, which I thought was good. Everybody was saying I was Spock, so I figured I should check it out and—[the president makes the Vulcan salute with his hand].
David Jackson, USA Today, December 22, 2012:
President Obama is rejecting comparisons to Mr. Spock, the emotion-less Vulcan character on Star Trek.
Asked by Barbara Walters of ABC News what the biggest misconception of him is, Obama replied: "Me being detached, or Spock-like, or very analytical."
 Jeff Greenwald in Salon, May 7, 2009: 
Like Spock, part of what makes Obama so appealing is the fact that although he’s an outsider — “proudly alien,” as Leonard Nimoy once put it — he uses that distance to cultivate a sense of perspective. And while we’re drawn to Spock’s exotic traits — the pointy ears, green blood and weird mating rituals — we take comfort in his soothing baritone, prominent nose and ordinary teeth.
Maureen Dodd in The New York Times, February 28, 2009:
Speaking of the Enterprise, Mr. Obama has a bit of Mr. Spock in him (and not just the funny ears). He has a Vulcan-like logic and detachment. Any mere mortal who had to tell liberals that our obligations in Iraq and Afghanistan are far from over and tell Republicans that he has a $3.6 trillion budget would probably have tears running down his face.
Maureen Dowd in The New York Times, May 9, 2009:
In the “Star Trek” prequel, Spock’s father tells him, “You will always be a child of two worlds,” urging him not to keep such a tight vise on his emotions. And Spandexy Old Spock, known as Spock Prime, tells his younger self: “Put aside logic. Do what feels right.”
Mr. Obama is also a control freak who learned to temper, if not purge, all emotion. But as a young man of mixed blood, he was more adept than Young Spock at learning to adjust his two sides to charm both worlds, and to balance his cerebral air with his talent for evoking intense emotion. 
John Dickerson in Slate, May 18, 2009:
Obama is often compared to Spock because he never gets too hot or too cool and speaks in the careful way of a logician. But the president and the fictional character seem to have the same kind of empathy, too
At Bloomberg, Joshua Green disputed Matthew Yglesias over the Spock analogy, October 24, 2014:
Of the president’s response to Ebola, I wrote, “Obama’s Spock-like demeanor and hollow assurances about what experts are telling him feel incongruous.” This prompts the following unhinged, pro-Spock rant from Yglesias:
Critics, including Green, like to satirize Obama’s cool by comparing him to Spock. But Spock, though often played for laughs, was a damn fine officer. His clear thinking not only saved the Enterprise on countless occasions but was instrumental in brokering a historic peace accord between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
Look, my point was merely that Obama isn’t the most commanding public speaker. I did not mean to malign Mr. Spock or the broader Trekkie community. In hindsight, I might have used a more balanced Trekkie analogy, such as one later suggested by Bloomberg’s White House editor (and Trekkie?) Joe Sobczyk: “The public wants Captain Kirk in the Oval Office and is getting Spock instead.” I’ll try harder next time.