The Obama administration will not be building a Death Star ... but it is saying that various space projects the White House has launched are at least as cool as a Death Star. (Debatable.)
Responding to a petition on the White House website, science and technology adviser Paul Shawcross tells disappointed “Star Wars” fans, “This Isn’t the Petition Response You’re Looking For.” Shawcross explained that at $850 quadrillion, the cost was simply too high in a time of tight budgets. Moreover “the administration does not support blowing up planets.” And anyway, “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 instead pointed to American involvement in the International Space Station program (“we do have floating robot assistants on the space station”), moon missions and extrasystem spacecraft.
How about those petitions? Anyone can post one on the “We the People” site, launched by the White House. If a petition gets 25,000 signatures, the administration will respond. Administration officials have answered demands that the government recognize extraterrestrial life, allow online poker, legalize marijuana, remove “under God” from the Pledge of Allegiance and ban Rush Limbaugh from Armed Forces Network radio. But many petitioners complain the administration has issued boilerplate responses with little opportunity for follow-up. In the Death Star case, at least, the White House clearly gave an important issue the time and attention it deserved.