Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 27, 2011

NOT ENTITLED TO HER OWN HISTORY.... Fairly early on in the State of the Union address, President Obama noted that the free enterprise system drives American innovation, but occasionally, public investment in basic research provides a foundation for the private sector. It was government spending, after all, that led to the Internet and GPS technology.

With this in mind, the president referenced the space race: "Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik, we had no idea how we would beat them to the moon. The science wasn't even there yet. NASA didn't exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs."

The point, of course, was Obama arguing, "This is our generation's Sputnik moment."

Last night on Fox News, former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) was asked whether she agreed with the sentiment. She replied:

"That was another one of those 'WTF' moments, when he, as so often repeated, this Sputnik moment that he would aspire Americans to celebrate. And he needs to remember that, uh, what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that, uh, race to space, yeah, 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."

Putting aside the odd grammatical choices Palin made, it's important folks realize that her version of history is idiotic. What she "needs to remember" is the launch of Sputnik was a breakthrough for the Soviets, but it was the United States that won -- it was American innovation (and lots of government spending) that took us to the moon and back.

As for the notion that Russia accumulated so much debt "at the time" of Sputnik that it collapsed the country, Palin has absolutely no idea what she's talking about -- the Soviets launched the satellite in October 1957. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, for reasons unrelated to its space program.

Steve Benen 10:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (64)

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Comments

I would "aspire" Sarah to enroll in a Community College, and avail herself of their English as a Second Language courses. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 27, 2011 at 10:23 AM | PERMALINK

Palin - what a fracking dunce. It's just sad in so many ways. Sad that someone like that gets so much attention. Sad that the media gives her that much attention. Sad that someone so ignorant about historical events influences so many other people. I could go on, but you know what I mean...

Posted by: kanopsis on January 27, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

When Jon Stewart says "WTF" it's kinda funny.

When a presidential wannabe says it, it's kinda creepy.

Posted by: Newton Whale on January 27, 2011 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

You don't really get the flavor of Palin's comment without hearing her own voice, which has never so much reminded me so much of Dino, the Flintstones' beloved pet dinosaur.

Posted by: beejeez on January 27, 2011 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, for reasons unrelated to its space program.

But was related to their debt as they tried to outspend the US in military weaponry, which is related to the space race. And, of course, the weapons race did run up lots of debt we are still accruing as we refuse to get out of the race.

I think poor Sarah got a little fact that ran contrary to two of her big world views (spending on military-- good. Deficit--bad) and her head exploded on the air (again).

Posted by: martin on January 27, 2011 at 10:29 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the Soviet Union collapsed because Ronald The Great Reagan huffed and puffed and blew the country down. No?

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on January 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Palin is pitiful and painful, but that screwup is what we expect. Get a load of that, she made two errors in one: first thinking that Russia's Sputnik inspired space program caused their collapse (maybe she confused that with military spending, which may or may not have done that instead - in any case, a dangerous game of chicken for Reagan to play if he did totter them as neocons love to presume - all with little appreciation of indigenous moveents like, wow, labor leader Lech Wałęsa in Poland.)

The second mistake was her "thinking" or pretending that Obama meant to praise them directly for sending Sputnik up (and there'd be nothing wrong with that anyway) when instead it was (as any high-school student should know) a stimulus for us to forge ahead in science education foremost and the space program itself being secondary (Steven didn't quite make this vital distinction.) In any case, fits in with her saying she corrected herself in the NK gaffe (but clearly done by a host), etc. I guess Sully will as usual have fun with this one.

What made me raise an eyebrow is her use of "WTF" for, "what the f**k" - an odd choice for a social conservative, even if abbreviated.

Might as well make another pitch here for the Steampunk Palin comic, there might be some left if you're nutty enough to want one (well, I sure was.)
www.comicsalliance.com/2011/01/20/steampunk-palin-comic/

Posted by: Neil B on January 27, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Somebody needs to tell Sarah that it wasn't the spending on the space race that bankrupted the Soviet Union, it was keeping up the arms race and their involvement in a guerrilla war in Afghanistan for ten years that did it.

She can criticize Obama for not doing more to cut our bloated defense budget, and getting us out of two disasterous wars, but then she would have to ask who got us into that predicament in the first place.

Posted by: majun on January 27, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

PALINaroundwithterrorists can see the Russian Space Program from her porch.

Posted by: stevio on January 27, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Wait, maybe her Sputnik comment is valid.
AFter all, it was 34 years after Sputnik went up that the USSR collapsed.
It's now 30 years since Reagan was inaugurated. Sounds like we're right about on schedule for that US collapse.

Ronald Reagan: 'Mourning in America!'

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 27, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

Oh my God I just got this. She thinks Obama is identifying with the _Russian_ position. She thinks he means "We should be like Russia and launch Sputnik" rather than "We responded to the challenge of Sputnik with a wave of ingenuity, and we'll respond to new challenges in the same spirit."

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on January 27, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

What she is actually saying is that we should not have responded with our own program, but rather have left the Russians in control of space. That way we wouldn't have spent all those billions on NASA and everything now would be just tickety-boo.

Maybe we can get this pushed in front of the TPers to help sarah's favorability rating a little more (on its way down.)

Posted by: Texas Aggie on January 27, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

FlipYrWig is correct. You aren't seeing what Palin is wrong about. She is so stupid she thought Obama was trying to act like the USSR in the space race, not the USA. This is where all the other stupid trickles down from.

Posted by: Flounder on January 27, 2011 at 10:41 AM | PERMALINK

By now we should all be used to the fact that her version of history is straight out of fractured fairytales:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAAkauRR-y4

What's equally weird is the message:

Republicans believe that we can't do shit, that our best days are behind us, and what we really need to bequeath our kids is a cellar full of canned goods, bottled water, guns and ammo.

Posted by: Newton Whale on January 27, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

Palin-Bachmann 2012
The Twit Twins

Posted by: sue on January 27, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

FlipYrWig is correct. You aren't seeing what Palin is wrong about. She is so stupid she thought Obama was trying to act like the USSR in the space race, not the USA. This is where all the other stupid trickles down from.

Yup, her error is like an onion, which you can keep unpeeling and cry whilst doing so.

Posted by: Todd for VT House on January 27, 2011 at 10:44 AM | PERMALINK

Despite her "college education" the woman is simply illiterate. BTW, the official "breakup" of the Soviet Union is usually dated from 1989.

Posted by: Russell Aboard M/V Sunshine on January 27, 2011 at 10:45 AM | PERMALINK

Look, who the hell is writing her stuff--Rebecca Mansour? Todd? William Kristol? I know she doesn't have time to write her own wikipapers, but at least she or her sycophants could hire some smart kid to assure some factual coherence.

Ask Bristol the name of that smart kid she used to mock because she didn't use the right eye shadow. She's probably a sophomore now at UA-Anchorage, and she could use the money.

Posted by: Steve P on January 27, 2011 at 10:46 AM | PERMALINK

I love being lectured about how we need to learn American history and how we need to study the Constitution by people who know jack shit about either.

Posted by: TR on January 27, 2011 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Twits 'n Nasty

Orchestra or balcony.
What they want is whatcha see.
Keep the best of you.
Do the rest of you.

Posted by: Newton Whale on January 27, 2011 at 10:48 AM | PERMALINK

Despite her "college education" the woman is simply illiterate.

"College educations," plural. Remember, she went to five different schools before finding one that would finally give her a diploma.

Posted by: TR on January 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Shortly after the Soviet Union's demise, a former diplomat told his American colleague, "We engaged in a race to see who would be first to bankrupt themselves with military spending. We won, but not by much."

Posted by: Art Hackett on January 27, 2011 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Why won't the media stop treating her as if she is not only an adult, but one of the smartest and most respected adults in the room? This is LUNACY! Anyone who gives her credence is guilty by association of being a high school level, preening, superficial, strutting, vain, blithering idiot. A judgmental, wannabe who is self-delusional and thinks she knows it all. All media whores who support this shrill-seeker should be shunned by the thinking parts of society. Sympathy and repulsion are the words that come to mind. Pls, media, get that fucktard off my TeeVee!!!

Posted by: IN waht respect , Charlie? on January 27, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Palin's statement is absolutely delusional, but I would like to point out that the Russians have a spacecraft capable of ferrying people into space, and in a few months the United States of America will not.

America! F*ck yeah!

Posted by: Astronaut Wannabe on January 27, 2011 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

And it will be military spending that "collapses" the American government, which the half-term, half-wit from Alaska is all in favor of.

Posted by: Sam Simple on January 27, 2011 at 10:53 AM | PERMALINK

If anyone is still wondering why Palin has never had an actual press conference...

Posted by: MattF on January 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

Palin seems incapable of learning some simple concepts. Like, if your reaction to something the highly educated President of the United States is "WTF", maybe you should try harder to understand what he said, and not assume it was stupid and worthy of ridicule.

It's you, Sarah, not Obama, that has the problem.

It may have something to do with the fact that she was 5 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and she's never cared about learning anything, especially something that doesn't personally affect her and her ability to grift.

Posted by: biggerbox on January 27, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

If, Mr. Benen, your attribute above, if indeed spoken by Ms. Palin last night on cable TV, is reflective of an imbecile!

May God help her and her minions!-Kevo

Posted by: kevo on January 27, 2011 at 10:55 AM | PERMALINK

Sorry for the last rant. I couldn't help myself! God help us.

Posted by: In what respect , Charlie? on January 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

"...former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin ..."

That's conspicuously unintelligent former half-term governor. Have some respect.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on January 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Martin, little AFAIK of Soviet military spending was directly related to their space program (the kind that we usually mean, not just "missiles" because they go into space.) Most of the former was lots of tanks, ICBMs, army etc. Yes of course putting up Sputnik gave them rocketry advances but it was deciding to spend so much on the military (and why don't Sarah and other cons take *that* hint to heart?) that brought them grief, not the PR and science advantage of a "space program" per se. BTW I think her use of the faintly vulgar but still quasi-mainstream slang abbro is meant to make her look cool to supposedly on the fence youngsters looking for hip pols or whatever.

Todd: heh, Sarah's rubbish is like "The Onion" and an onion at the same time ... Truly stupefying, even if there are worse of them out there (and as said, *she is a supposedly viable "major party candidate" for President! What does that tell you about that party and its supporters?! That's not just a WTF moment, that's a WTF political movement! ;-\

Posted by: Neil B on January 27, 2011 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

Can't the Republicans find women who know what they are talking about? Palin & Bachmann are embarrassing.

On the other hand, maybe they should entertain us for a while more. They have no future in presidential politics. The R’s who really want to win the White House will avoid them like the plague

Posted by: BigRed on January 27, 2011 at 10:57 AM | PERMALINK

To echo previous comments, the larger implication here is that she doesn't believe in St Ronnie bringing down the USSR, but Eisenhower.

Posted by: ack ack ack on January 27, 2011 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

Palinization: Diverting lively, inspired dialog into dumb snark and moving the center of attention away from whatever it was a moment ago to Wasilla, AK.

Milbank may be onto something. Just ignore her for a month,

Posted by: bcinaz on January 27, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Palin becomes more irrelevant every day. And by her own doing. Glad to see it finally happen but it has taken way too long.

Posted by: copland on January 27, 2011 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

So Sarah knows why the Soviet Union collapsed. Of course she is way ahead of the hundreds of books that have been and will be written on the topic.

Certainly miltary (not space) spending had something to do with it, as did a little incident called Chernobyl. But I think the short answer is: The Soviet Union and its satellites were an empire. As with the British, French, Dutch, etc. empires, the forces of modernity and nationalism in the post-WWII era tended toward imperial collapse. The Soviet empire just took a few deacades longer to go.

Posted by: Virginia on January 27, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

And every time Sarah fouls it up like this, poor John McCain dies a little bit inside.

Posted by: eserwe on January 27, 2011 at 11:09 AM | PERMALINK

The collapse of the Soviet Union was Gorbachev's fault, Sarah. Things happening to a country cannot be blamed on events or policies of the past, just like how Obama cause all of America's problems from the second he took office and before then it was perfect.

Posted by: doubtful on January 27, 2011 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

WTF does Brent Bozell have to say about Sarah's choice of, um, words?

Posted by: kc on January 27, 2011 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

How utterly frustrating it would be to debate palin. Can you imagine her in a presidential debate against Obama? I'm sure he could handle her, but how do you manage to credibly get across to voters that she doesn't know WTF she's talking about without alienating more people than you win over to your side?

Posted by: CDW on January 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

As a student of world history and one who is not as dismissive of socialism as close-minded people like Sarah Palin, I wanted to provide a little historical context you will never hear on Fox News. Think back to 1945 - the Soviet Union was decimated. Entire cities leveled by the Nazi invasion. 25 million people killed! Infrastructure in ruins. Yet, in 12 short years, they were able to launch a satellite and their industries were churning out industrial goods at a rate comparable to the U.S. - it scared the hell out of us! That is why we went into full tilt panic and began a huge covert campaign of sabotage and proxy wars against them. We were scared shitless, not because communism was so ineffective, but because it worked so well. We can only guess how history might have turned out if they hadn't overspent on their military, as we are doing now. Chew on that, Sarah!!

Posted by: Sam Simple on January 27, 2011 at 11:21 AM | PERMALINK

And of course those who claim that the Beatles brought down the Soviet Union are on to something. Voice of America, BBC, radio and TV in satellite countries near European democracies, etc. - any information about what was going on and what life offered in other countries - was probably as big a factor as military spending or anything else.

Posted by: emjayay on January 27, 2011 at 11:22 AM | PERMALINK

As for palin saying wtf, she was ridiculing Obama's Win the Future speech. See Political Animal for blurb about that.

Posted by: CDW on January 27, 2011 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

This is all part of the right's new flavor of the week - which is that "government spending" caused the financial crisis and recession in which we are currently mired. Because? Because shut up, that's why.

Banks? Financial crisis? Nawww. It was the federal government's fault.

And the irony is that Palin wants it both ways. Government spending is always bad and terrible on Planet Sarah, until the moment it suddenly isn't (for the military? Preventing cuts to Medicaid?) And then government spending abruptly becomes essential - and it is the Democrats that want to take away your good things and put you up front of a "death panel."

Someone else is always responsible for the bad stuff.

Posted by: Bokonon on January 27, 2011 at 11:36 AM | PERMALINK

So Ms Palin is shilling for Marc Maron's podcast, WTF? It was recently dubbed the "underground cult comedy hit" in aNew York Times article.

Posted by: Nancycadet on January 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

And Also! In the same painful interview, when asked what she would cut to reduce spending, she exclaimed "!!!!NPR!!!!"

And Also!! In the same pitiful interview, she claimed that her 'hard working' daughter had multiple great of work offers and is an outstanding example for other young people out there. So, leaving the state where the father of your child lives, and moving thousands of miles away, and then try to get him to sign away parental rights is what we want to do for our young unwed mothers?

Posted by: bodacious on January 27, 2011 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

"No we can't!"--Palin

Posted by: Quaker in a Basement on January 27, 2011 at 11:48 AM | PERMALINK

Any chance that her "hard-working" daughter's last name might have something to do with those work offers she's getting? Nahhh!

Posted by: Virginia on January 27, 2011 at 11:56 AM | PERMALINK

So ... Bristol Palin has multiple job offers. That's just terrific! And on Planet Palin, that anecdote demonstrates that the current 10 percent jobless rate is voluntary, and is the result of people being shiftless and living off their unemployment checks. Because ... Bristol has multiple job offers!

What those unemployed jerks should be doing is going out and getting pregnant out of wedlock, becoming reality TV stars through family connections, and doing speaking gigs about the whole thing to adoring audiences.

I mean, compared with Bristol's grit and determination, the shiftlessness and entitlement mentality of the average American worker is just staggering.

Posted by: Bokonon on January 27, 2011 at 12:02 PM | PERMALINK

The more anybody pays attention to this insidious, stupid monster, the bigger she gets. Please stop posting about Sarah Palin! She is a stupid speck and an uneducated money grubbing whore with whatever the allure is that captures the heterosexual male and a big mouth. Please stop, I beg you sir!

Posted by: Trollop on January 27, 2011 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

She's just confusing the space race with 'star wars' phase of the arms race, right?

Posted by: the_dan on January 27, 2011 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

It may have something to do with the fact that she was 5 when Apollo 11 landed on the moon, and she's never cared about learning anything, especially something that doesn't personally affect her and her ability to grift.

But the space race did/does directly affect her and her ability to grift. Without it, no satellites or rockets to propel them into space. The blackberry she uses to tweet depends on the telecommunications network these satellites provide.

Oh, and I'll give her a pass on the WTF thing. She was trying to be clever with the President's 'Win The Future' meme. That doesn't excuse the rest of the stupid though.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on January 27, 2011 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

Hey, everyone, be nice to our next President, soon to be selected by the Roberts Court.

-Z

Posted by: Zorro on January 27, 2011 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

To quote 311, from Hydroponic...
" My skin holds me in my brain moves me then boom.
I jump straight off the speaker in a form a celebration that we're moving.
Freely disconnected I'm truly grateful I'm going back the Earth."

Or Alaska

Posted by: KurtRex1453 on January 27, 2011 at 12:38 PM | PERMALINK

As I understand it, the Russians beat the US into space and scared the crap out of the public and a lot of politicans, but we weren't totally flat footed. We had acquired better German scientists at the end of WWII. We had been working on our own space program before Sputnick. Ike wanted a civilian rocket to lauch our first satellite. That vehicle wasn't as far along as our military launcher. It didn't take us long to catch and beat the Russians once we quietly adapted our military launcher.

The Russians really helped our space program in Congress. Suddenly price was no object. We made the necessary investment. National pride was at stake.

Posted by: Ron Byers on January 27, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

A day without a viciously mean minded , grudge bearing , nitpicking darling is like a day without migraines and cluster migraines .
Oh if you don't think I am serious , take the challenge . I betcha like the quietude , where your pulse isn't a threat to a grip on sanity . Perhaps the difficulty in following some inane , mistaken collaboration between doctrinaire cruelty , and incidental trivia appears the less painful choice , fair and balanced you choose .
Newton Whale , thanks for the Fractured Fairy Tale "Leaping Beauty" . It was very close to perfect .

Posted by: FRP on January 27, 2011 at 1:32 PM | PERMALINK

CDW, I think it's just a coincidence. Her wording here "That was another one of those 'WTF' moments, when he, as so often repeated, this Sputnik moment that he would aspire Americans to celebrate." The phrase "one of those ____ moments" tends to go with "what the ____" even though there was an issue with win the future overall. Anyway, a good speaker wouldn't just throw that out, but just maybe you're right (it is a secondary issue, however.) Anyone else got a clue, FWIW?

Posted by: neil b on January 27, 2011 at 1:53 PM | PERMALINK

(OK, they said it was a play on win the future, but it's still tacky to do that anyway, that's the main point.)

Posted by: neil b' on January 27, 2011 at 1:55 PM | PERMALINK

With all due respect to DAY @ 10:23 AM, I would refer miz' never-do-diddly-more-than-halfway to give her undecided attention to the business end of a garbage truck while it's backing up. That "beep...beep...beep" she'll hear, along with the Rush Limbaugh radio waves that are obviously messing with her few remaining functional synaptic connections, are the guts-n-glory of Sputnik.

Yep---A-M radio and a backup alarm, according to Miz' Lipstick-on-a-Pig, brought down the Big Red Machine.

I'm laughing at her "superior intellect...."

Posted by: S. Waybright on January 27, 2011 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

But I'm intrigued by what Palin offers as an alternative to the "Sputnik moment" - a "Spudnut moment."

She seriously said that what America needs is to be run like a small-town family run doughnut shop ....er something like that, not quite sure what the heck she meant. (Note: the shop she picked to hold up as an example of single family-run virtue happens, as it turns out, to be part of a chain.)

This is right up there with the Turkey-killing video - I can hardly believe it's not a piece of performance art.

Space program? No. Doughnut shop? Yes. With sprinkles on.

(ps - does Palin know that, at least in southern California, doughnut shops are overwhelmingly owned and operated by Cambodian immigrants?)

Posted by: g on January 27, 2011 at 2:09 PM | PERMALINK

American taxpayers also pay for all of the basic scientific research (done in colleges and universities) that ultimately leads to most of our prescription drugs. By the way, why is anyone asking for Palin's opinion on this issue. You could get more information out of a gerbil.

Posted by: max on January 27, 2011 at 3:33 PM | PERMALINK

"the Soviets launched the satellite in October 1957. The Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, for reasons unrelated to its space program."

CORRECT. ABSOLUTELY CORRECT.

Statistically, it was without a doubt Ronald Reagan who decided to spend the Soviets under the table. Reagan betted that our economy could hold out longer in a firefight than theirs, and though it was a real dangerous move, it ends up he was right. I am no real huge fan of Reagan's, but this move on his part is definitely THE major deciding factor in the financial meltdown of the UDSSR.

Posted by: bonncaruso on January 27, 2011 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

She has the diseased mental process of one who barely challenged herself for far too long. She is almost in full-blown dementia. I am of the opinion she hasn't any chance of recovering anything near functional intelligence at this point. That this is coveted in some circles tells you a lot about oligarchies. Cheney would gladly lead a search committee for her running mate. . .

Posted by: Sparko on January 27, 2011 at 7:49 PM | PERMALINK

The half-term quitter personifies the inarticulate, unintelligent, incoherence of the Teabagging Republicans, topping even Michele Bachman, and Paul 'Call Mr Laughernomics' Ryan:

It's possible that the Teabaggers are self loathing humans polluting the gene pool in preparation for some other life form to emerge to replace us on the food chain.

Posted by: LosGatosCA on January 29, 2011 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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