The night before last, Barack Obama was elected to be the 44th President of the United States. At 47 years of age, Obama will be the first president born in the same decade as Star Trek, so is he our first Trekkie President? There certainly are indications that he is. TrekMovie takes a look at the case and at other Trek/Presidential connections from the past.
Obama: Trekkie President
The clearest evidence of Obama’s Trekkie-cred comes from a speech in Wyoming he gave in March of this year when he spoke about NASA (which became the subject of a TrekMovie editorial written by former Trek science advisor Andre Bormanis). At the speech Obama stated:
I grew up on Star Trek. I believe in the final frontier
There is also this passage from an recent Newsweek article on the ‘Secrets of the 2008 Campaign. The article recounts Obama speaking to his wife about an outfit she was wearing and making a Trek ref. From the article:
"That’s an interesting belt buckle," he said to Michelle, mischievously. She feigned offense and said, "I am interesting, next to you. Surprise, surprise, a blue suit, a white shirt and a tie." Obama grinned and bent down until he was almost at eye level with her waist. He jabbed a playful finger toward her belt buckle, and let loose his inner nerd. "The lithium crystals! Beam me up, Scotty!" Obama squeaked, laughing at his own lame joke as Michelle rolled her eyes.
And if that is not enough, then we have the word of Mr. Spock himself, Leonard Nimoy. In an appearance on NPR’s Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me in September, Nimoy (a long-time Obama supporter) recounted the following story:
About a year and a half a go I was at a political event and one of our current campaigners for the office of President of the United States saw me, approached, and he gave me the Vulcan signal…it was not John McCain
Obama also mentioned Trek when he appeared on a comedy tribute video as part of Bill Gates final CES Keynote as CEO of Microsoft. The joke was that Bill Gates was calling up politicians now that he had time on his hands, for Obama’s part he says "Bill? Bill Shatner? From Star Trek?" (goto 5:50 in the video below)
In addition to Mr. Nimoy, many of the new Star Trek team are active supporters President-elect Obama. JJ Abrams hosted and attended many Obama events and both Zachary Quinto (the new Spock) and Chris Pine (the new Kirk) actively campaigned for Obama over the last year. In fact, Quinto sees a parallel with Obama’s message and Trek’s optimistic message, the actor was quoted in the recent Entertainment Weekly cover story:
This is a franchise that offers hope for unity — and so does Barack Obama…When this movie comes out, and Obama is president, hopefully there will be some parallels
Obama gives the Vulcan salute (with some help from Photoshop)
There is one other Trek/Obama connection worth making and that is he may have the Borg to thank for his rise to power…really. As TMZ explains, Obama glided to an easy election to the US Senate in 2004 after a scandal involving Jeri Ryan (Voyager’s 7of9) and her former husband Jack Ryan forced him out of the race.
Other Presidential Treks
While various Star Trek episodes and movies have mentioned U.S. Presidents (the Enterprise episode "Storm Front II" featured nearly every modern President, Star Trek VI revealed the Vulcans have a proverb about Nixon, and John Kennedy’s words are in the teaser trailer for 2009’s feature film), Star Trek and the U.S. Presidency have many interesting non fiction connections.
President Gerald Ford (President 1974-1977)
When NASA rolled out their first space shuttle "Enterprise" on September 17, 1976, the creator and crew of the fictional starship USS Enterprise was there. President Ford had been persuaded by 200,000 letters from Americans (in a campaign organized by famous Trekkie Bjo Trimble) to change the name of the shuttle from "Constitution" to "Enterprise" to honor the influence of the television show on science.
President Ronald Reagan (President 1981-1989)
According to his own diary, during the weekend of June 23-24, 1984, President Reagan watched Star Trek III at the White House with friends and family. He wrote "After dinner we ran "Star Trek III." It wasn’t too good". In 1991, then Former President Reagan visited the Star Trek: The Next Generation set during the filming of the episode "Redemption." When asked about Klingons, Reagan said "I like them. They remind me of Congress."
Almost Presidents Gore and Powell.
According to college roommate Tommy Lee Jones, speaking at the 2000 Democratic National Convention, former Vice President and former Presidential nominee Al Gore is a Star Trek fan. According to Larry Nemecek’s Star Trek The Next Generation Companion, General Colin Powell (Chairman of the Joint Chief of Staffs, and later the Secretary of State and once considered a possible Presidential nominee) also visited the TNG sets during its third season, and was there when Gene Roddenberry gave his military bars to actor Wil Wheaton.
More on Trek and Presidents:
- Wired: 5 signs President-elect Obama is a Geek
- US Presidents @ Memory Alpha (the Star Trek Wiki)
- Henry Jenkins: Is Obama a secret Vulcan?