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Palin Declares Soviet Union Won the Space Race

January 27, 2011

From war taxes and the First Amendment to Reagan's Iran/Contra scandal, how much energy her home state of Alaska produces and so much more, Sarah Palin doesn't know what she doesn't know. As her response to President Obama's State of the Union address showed, that long and growing list now includes the history of the Cold War. More jaw-dropping still, Palin insisted her model of the U.S. response to its current economic challenges isn't the transformational mobilization of the nation's technological and education resources after the 1957 Soviet launch of Sputnik, but instead a donut shop in Washington State.
The inventor of "refudiate" and author of moving prose such as "doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs?" took the President to task for his "win the future" mantra. "That acronym was spot on," Palin told Greta Van Susteren on Fox News, adding, "there were a lot of WTF moments throughout that speech." And among them, Palin insisted, was Obama's declaration before Congress Tuesday that "this is our generation's Sputnik moment":

"That was another one of those WTF moments, when he so often repeated 'Sputnik moment' that he would aspire Americans to celebrate.
He needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that race to space. Yup, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union."
So I listened to that Sputnik moment talk over and over again, and I think, No, we don't need one of those. You know what we need is a "spudnut" moment. And here's where I'm going with this, Greta. And you're a good one because you're one of those reporters who actually gets out there in the communities, find these hard-working people and find solutions to the problems that Americans face.
Well, the spudnut shop in Richland, Washington -- it's a bakery, it's a little coffee shop that's so successful, 60-some years, generation to generation, a family-owned business not looking for government to bail them out and to make their decisions for them. It's just hard-working, patriotic Americans in this shop.
We need more spudnut moments in America.

(For more information on Spudnuts as a blueprint for the 21st century U.S. economy, visit here.)
Palin's claim that the Soviets won the space race will comes as a surprise to most Americans. After all, four years after the Russian launch of Sputnik, President John F. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet on May 25, 1961:

"I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space; and none will be so difficult or expensive to accomplish."

On July 20, 1969, it was Americans - and not Soviets - who landed on the moon and took that one small step for man and one giant leap for mankind.
As Kennedy predicted, the space race was expensive. But nowhere near as expensive as the arms race. And it was that massive financial burden - along with the increasingly unmet expectations of the Soviet people themselves - which doomed the underperforming economy of the USSR - 34 years after Sputnik. (That development was foreseen by Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who as early as 1975 predicted the "tremendous strain" of the USSR's economic weakness and ethnic divisions would lead the Soviet empire to "blow up.")
As for Sarah Palin's comical revisionist history of the space race, it turns out President Obama's clarion call Tuesday night echoed JFK's words to Congress in 1961 :

Recognizing the head start obtained by the Soviets with their large rocket engines, which gives them many months of lead time, and recognizing the likelihood that they will exploit this lead for some time to come in still more impressive successes, we nevertheless are required to make new efforts on our own. For while we cannot guarantee that we shall one day be first, we can guarantee that any failure to make this effort will make us last.

Or as Alaska Governor Sarah Palin put it in another epic WTF moment on the day she announced her resignation, "Only dead fish go with the flow."


Jon Perr
Jon Perr is a technology marketing consultant and product strategist who writes about American politics and public policy.

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