WASHINGTON — These are not the White House aides you're looking for.
Flanked by two stormtroopers and a droid from Star Wars, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, might have wished Friday that he could control minds with The Force, the way Obi Wan Kenobi did in the original movie.
Shortly after President Barack Obama finished an hourlong news conference before his Hawaii vacation, Earnest came to the lectern flanked by two stormtroopers and the R2D2 droid.
"You gotta admit, this is pretty cool," Earnest said. The visitors were at the White House for a screening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens for Gold Star military families. The movie opened in theaters across the country on Friday.
The photo-op was just one piece of evidence suggesting that the nation's capital had gone gaga over the latest Star Wars installment.
In a news release with the subject line "A long time ago in a Congress far, far away …" House Speaker Paul D. Ryan suggested that Obama's administration was The Empire.
"Republicans retook the House in 2011, with Speaker John Boehner at the helm. He knew and implemented an age-old truth: Spend with transparency or spend not. There is no try," the release noted. "The Force was strong with that one."
And many of the presidential candidates have been quick to offer Star Wars quips. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky calls his donors and volunteers the "Rebel Alliance." Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is holding a Star Wars contest on his campaign's mobile app.
And the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee put out a fundraising appeal designed to look like the films' popular opening credits with this line for donors: "We're relying on you. Retake the Senate, we must."
But there appears to be a little confusion in Washington. At the White House, reporters joked that the Star Wars moment in the briefing room cleared up which side of The Force the Obama administration was on.
But of course, it does not, since any self-respecting Star Wars fan knows that R2D2 is a good guy (currently a loyal member of The Resistance), while the stormtroopers are bad guys (part of The First Order).
Leave it to a press secretary to leave reporters guessing.