Tommy Christopher shakes his head at Palin's latest attempt to outwit the president:
Palin’s first mistake (or misdirection, if she’s no idiot) is in misplacing the US’ role in the President’s Sputnik analogy. Palin seems to be cautioning America against launching its own metaphorical Sputnik, a complete misreading of the meaning of “Sputnik moment.”
The Soviet Union’s launch of a satellite that was only slightly more advanced than Balloon Boy 1 is not the model of success to which the President’s speech urges us to aspire, but rather, the flood of research, innovation, and achievement that it spurred in a then-complacent American psyche. The negative consequences of Sputnik to the Soviet Union, then, would only serve to reinforce what the President said.
Even in twisting the meaning of the President’s analogy, though, Palin twists history to suit the view from her front porch.
While it’s tough to pinpoint a single reason for the dissolution of the USSR, the space program isn’t one of them, at least not in the substantive way that Palin imagines. The Cold War arms race is the factor that most closely tracks here, and while the Sputnik 1 launch was a shot across the bow in that war, it was a drop in the arms race bucket.
Palin then goes on to suggest that what America needs is a “Spudnut moment,” explaining that there’s this successful small business in Washington state, and that America needs to do…what? Have lots of successful small businesses? Stop preventing successful businesses like The Spudnut Shop from being successful? Palin never really explains how this is supposed to work, but I think the equation goes something like this: “Sputnik moment” + “Something that sounds like Sputnik but isn’t”=WIN!