Republicans resist Obama's Jedi mind meld

US President Barack Obama speaks to the press at the White House 1 March 2013 Barack Obama claims his re-election gives him the support of the public to raise taxes

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President Barack Obama says he cannot force Republicans to agree with him by using a Jedi mind meld - but he is trying to paint the party in Congress as the dark side.

Speaking after a short and fruitless meeting at the White House, he said their actions would result in "unnecessary and inexcusable" cuts, and that thousands would lose their jobs and the recovery would be damaged.

Apart from the distress he has caused science fiction fans by apparently confusing Star Wars and Star Trek*, this will leave the Republican leadership fuming and feeling even less like doing a deal.

But the president's performance was not about winning an agreement but playing the blame game.

A moral mandate?

The automatic and deliberately harsh spending cuts have come because the politicians are so far apart they cannot agree to a sensible way of balancing the books.

House Speaker John Boehner outside the WHite House, 1 March 2013 John Boehner says revenue increases are off the table

Their dispute is simple and as old as the division between left and right.

Mr Obama wants to deal with the deficit, in part, with tax rises (or to be precise, by closing tax loopholes).

The Republican leader, House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner, insisted leaving the meeting that the president got his "tax hikes" in January, so now it was the time for spending cuts.

Mr Boehner has a point - some Republicans pointed out at the time that they had thrown away their best bargaining chip.

But Mr Boehner's low-key comments will hardly make headlines. The president's will.

He claimed that he had won the election on this very argument and even Republican voters said that the rich should pay more.

He said it was time for Republicans in Congress to catch up with their own voters and the American people.

That is not how the American system works. But Mr Obama was as insistent today as he has been ever since 6 November - his election victory gives him a moral mandate and deprives the Republicans of theirs.

He is determined to keep painting them as intransigent, uncaring and out of touch.

Several conservative commentators seem delighted to help him out, portraying these deep cuts as rather a fine thing.

The president's stated aim is to encourage public pressure on Congress and so free up moderate Republicans to do a deal.

This would, by definition, deepen splits in a fractious and demoralised party only just beginning a debate about its own future.

He seems determined to define the Republicans before they can re-define themselves.

Mr Obama may not have Jedi powers, but he knows how to kick a man when he is down.

*It seems likely the president was getting the impressive mental powers of the Star Wars Jedi knights confused with the Vulcan mind meld in Star Trek. Mr Obama is sometimes compared to Star Trek's emotionless and hyper-rational protagonist Mr Spock, and I can imagine him, hand gripped to the head of an alien humanoid of a startling orange hue. Or would that be a Vulcan death grip? But perhaps the scoffers are wrong and the president is an ultra nerd, and was referring to the Jedi battle mind meld mentioned in several Star Wars novels.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    What an historic day - in the UK, UKIP has given the Toiries a bloody by-election nose, and seems poised to change the UK political landscape for the better. And Obama called Congress' bluff but Congress stood firm, leaving Obama with egg on his face. We might look back on today as the turning point after which Obama's political decline accelerated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 2.

    Obama made a fool of himself today. It's a pity that this man has such power. Hey - wait a minute - he doesn't! Thanks to the constitution's balance of powers, Congress is wisely refusing to let his ding-dong economics succeed.

    Hats off the GOP in Congress. Stand firm, amigos! Obama will be gone in a few years and then the US can start to rebuild...

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    ref #32

    Yes it was a Fox poll the leading and most trusted news source in the U.S. No to limbaugh I work for a living unlike alot of the Obama supporters

  • rate this

    Comment number 271.


    You really are incapable of understanding that spending cuts can take place during a period of rising expenditures aren't you. Wow --

    Sad but amazing.

    I'm afraid there's no help for you, my friend. Your ideological blindness is incurable. Get a stick.

    Also only too typical of the conservative's flat-earth, blinded by their ideology sort of world view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Beneath the swagger & empty bluster today, Obama looked broken and demoralized, as indeed he should be. His tactic of bullying the GOP failed. His strategy of scaring the US public has also failed.

    All we have left is a tired, middle-aged academic - an economically illiterate demagogue who gazes in sad dismay as the economy sinks all around him.

    O tempora! O mores!


Comments 5 of 395



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