I try not to get too political on this blog, but when it comes to Sarah Palin, it’s rarely about politics and more about common sense. In a Fox News appearance following the State of the Union address, Sarah Palin was asked what she thought of President Obama’s declaration that it is now America’s “Sputnik Moment,” a moment similar to 1957 when the U.S. government, shocked by the Soviet launch of the Sputnik satellite, redoubled its efforts to win the space race.
Palin’s response left some room for interpretation (and sounded slightly mangled, as always):
"When [The President] so often repeated the 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, yeah, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it led to the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union."
Was Palin suggesting that the Soviets won the space race?
Was she implying that the 1957 launch of the world’s first satellite was a bad idea and eventually brought down the Soviet Union?
Was she suggesting that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the result of America’s 1957 Sputnik moment?
No, Palin said the next day, quickly backtracking after apparently misunderstanding the context of a 1957 Soviet space launch and its universally acknowledged non-existent impact on the collapse of the Soviet Union more than thirty years later.
I think we can all agree that the Sputnik launch was not the straw that broke the proverbial camels back of the Russians. A massive and costly military build-up, a nuclear arms race, a failed invasion of Afghanistan, and a lack of a free market system are the factors that likely doomed the Soviets.
Palin absorbed quite a bit of ridicule for this misunderstanding of history in the subsequent days.
So imagine her utter joy when one of her staffers, or perhaps a supporter, alerted her to Spudnut, a coffee shop in Richland, WA that’s name is close enough to Sputnik to allow her to spin the story away from her ignorance of history and back upon “the heartland of America.”
I don’t often think as Washington state as the “heartland of America,” but perhaps she was being metaphorical.
She writes (using the incorrect abbreviation for Washington while doing so):
"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. … The Spudnut shop in Richland, Wash., 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 make their decisions for them. It's just hard-working patriotic Americans in this shop. We need more Spudnut moments in America, and I wish that President Obama would understand in that heartland of America, what it is that really results in the solutions that we need to get this economy back on the right track. It's a shop like that.”
That Sputnik moment?
You understand that it existed before the President referenced it.
It’s not that Sputnik moment. It’s the Sputnik moment. It’s a universally acknowledged moment in American history.
And “that Sputnik moment talk”?
You mean the State of the Union address, the one that the Constitution requires the President to deliver once every year?
“That Sputnik talk?” Who is she kidding?
And really? We couldn’t use another Sputnik moment? Another moment in history when Americans share a common vision that propels us and the world forward in terms of technology, national defense and innovation?
Oh, and lands a human being on the Moon.
That’s no good?
We really need more coffee shops instead?