Really Awkward White House Petition Responses
Over a quarter of a million Americans wanted the White House to deport Canadian pop star and TMZ magnet Justin Bieber.
This past weekend, as millions looked towards eggs and bunnies, the Obama Administration finally gave a response...which said that the White House could not respond.
"Sorry to disappoint, but we won't be commenting on this one," read the official response, which for some reason took over two months to write up.
But this is hardly the first time the Administration's "We the People" petition site has been in a bit of an awkward pr situation.
Below are some more examples of when the Obama Administration probably wished a petition would come with full support for repealing the site instantaneously.
1. Westboro Baptist Church as Hate Group
After the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary, the Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church promised to protest the funerals of the victims.
The declaration was met by immense outrage from the American populace, including not one, but five petitions posted on the "We the People" website.
These various petitions called for Westboro to be classified as a "hate group" and to lose its tax exempt status.
One of the five petitions got over 367,000 signatories, the largest support for any petition on the site.
Yet when it came to the response, the White House declined to do either, stating that "we cannot issue a comment."
"To the extent that these petitions request a particular law enforcement or adjudicatory action, we cannot issue a comment," said the White House, adding that "as a matter of practice, the federal government doesn't maintain a list of hate groups."
Added to their response was a map that showed "all the signers of the petition 'Legally recognize Westboro Baptist Church as a hate group'" with various shades of blue.
Helen A.S. Popkin of NBC News may have put it best when she declared that with the response the "White House quells Westboro Baptist rage with dullest ... GIF ... ever."
2. Death Star Construction Request
In a move that probably made George Lucas quite proud, a large group of Americans called for the creation of a Death Star.
Created not long after Obama won re-election, the petition garnered over 34,000 names at a time when only 25,000 was needed for an official response.
"By focusing our defense resources into a space-superiority platform and weapon system such as a Death Star, the government can spur job creation in the fields of construction, engineering, space exploration, and more, and strengthen our national defense," read the petition.
The White House did what it could to put happy face on for a petition that was likely equal parts funny and serious.
Speaking on behalf of the White House, Paul Shawcross wrote that several issues abounded with the project, including facts that "construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000," "The Administration does not support blowing up planets," and the very valid question of "Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?"
While humorous from start to finish, the Death Star petition became easy fodder for those bemoaning the point of the "We the People" site.
These and other similar joke petitions led the White House to quadruple the signature limit for an official response to 100,000.
While likely to reduce the number of bizarre requests in the future, Jon Stewart of the Daily Show was more critical of the move.
"You know what's going on, you keep voting to raise the signature ceiling, and you know we're just going to keep hitting it over and over again," remarked Stewart.
"Why not address the systemic problems? Namely people love signing up for [expletive] on the Internet."
3. If You Like Your Plan, You Can Keep It
Around the time Americans were mulling whether or not they needed a Death Star for economic and national security reasons, others were concerned with the more down-to-earth issue of healthcare.
As Obama retained his position as U.S. president, a petition was created demanding that Americans be allowed to "opt out" of the Affordable Care Act if they so demand.
"President Obama has been clear on health care: 'if you like your plan, you can keep it.' This petition is nothing more than holding The President of The United States to his word," read the petition.
Garnering over 41,000 signatures while 25,000 was still the benchmark to beat, the official response echoed the president's past rhetoric.
"We've got some good news for you. If you currently have private health insurance, you should be able to keep it, and that's exactly what the health care law says," read the official response.
"It's not a question of opting out of health reform -- the idea that individuals who like their insurance should keep it is a central part of the law. And as you say, President Obama has been pretty clear on that point."
Then again, maybe not.
As the Affordable Care Act was finally implemented, millions found themselves losing their healthcare and being compelled to join the program.
Fact-checking website Politifact dubbed the "If you like your plan" statement from Obama as the "Lie of the Year."
"It was a catchy political pitch and a chance to calm nerves about his dramatic and complicated plan to bring historic change to America's health insurance system," noted Politifact.
"'If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,' President Barack Obama said -- many times -- of his landmark new law. But the promise was impossible to keep."
4. Searching for ET
Back in 2011, when the White House only called for 5,000 signatures to officially answer a petition, a couple people wanted to know if we were alone.
Two petitions, one garnering about 5,000 names and another over 12,000, wanted the government to disclose all the information they had about life beyond Earth.
Phil Larson wrote the official response, stating that the "U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race."
"In addition, there is no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye," added Larson.
When assessing the pros and cons, Zachary Sniderman of mashable.com wrote that the White House was correct to respond and the response was well written, it focused on an issue that was far removed from more notable contemporary issues.
"The White House chose to answer this petition instead of handling more controversial topics such as those addressing the electoral college, Keystone XL Pipeline or same-sex marriage," wrote Sniderman.
And, no surprise, the official response has done nothing to stop the ongoing conspiracy theories about extraterrestrials.