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Sarah Palin: The Soviets Won The Space Race. WTF?

Since I didn’t find Sarah Palin’s appearance on Greta van Susterin’s show last night to be all that remarkable, I wasn’t going to comment on it but then, via Mediate, this caught my eye:

Palin was, of course, disappointed in Barack Obama‘s speech, calling his decision to refer to America’s “Sputnik moment” as a “WTF moment.” She continued:

He needs to remember 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.

Video:

Now if Palin was referring to the fact that the Soviet’s were the first to send an artificial satellite into orbit, or that they were the first to send a man into orbit, then she has a point. But that hardly qualifies as “winning the space race.” While the Soviets spent the 60′s orbiting the globe, the United States sent men to the Moon, and followed it up with a reusable space vehicle and numerous unmanned probes which even now are traveling outside the Solar System into the vast unknown. And of all the things that contributed to the economic collapse of the USSR, their space program was far down the list.

Obama’s Sputnik analogy was silly and his speech banal, but I really don’t get what Palin even meant by this comment.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. john personna says:

    Don’t you know, Doug. Sarah has a “FIrst Amendment” right to those beliefs.

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  2. wr says:

    What Palin meant by that comment? How about “If Michelle Bachman thinks she can take my place by saying moronic things any four year old knows are wrong, I’m going to show her!”

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  3. Jay Tea says:

    Dang, if only Palin had said “THAT race to space,” and not “THE race to space.”

    Whoops, she did.

    And historically, it’s worth noting that the Soviets won every single “race to space” and got to every single milestone ahead of us… EXCEPT “man on the moon.” First in orbit, first satellite, first to the moon, first landing on the moon. We only won the biggest and most significant one.

    Finally, the Soviets’ frantic desire to compete with us and prove their superiority was absolutely a factor in their eventual downfall. It was their inability to keep up with the Reagan administration’s defense programs that bankrupted them. And their efforts in the space race were also a factor.

    J.

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  4. Jay

    I’m sure you spent that many words explaining why Obama’s 57 states malapropism wasn’t the big deal so many on the right made it out to be

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  5. G.A.Phillips says:

    LOL, that’s because as always you have to find something negative. Palin was hilarious last night, and having a good time, rebutting Obama, she tore him up. lol…..WTF…..lol…..

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  6. wr says:

    Next up: Jay Tea explains exactly how the founding fathers fought tirelessly until they ended slavery.

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  7. Jay Tea says:

    Actually, Doug, I kind of ignored the whole “57 states” thing… until people started arguing that such slips were indications of stupidity.

    And considering your whole thesis is based on her NOT saying “that space race,” which you actually quoted, that leaves your whole piece as if co-written by Emily Litella.

    J.

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  8. Jay,

    The space race didn’t end with Sputnik and Yuri Gagarin, and hinging your entire argument on the word “that” is like Bill Clinton saying it depends on what the meaning of the word is is.

    More broadly, her statement about the Soviets winning “that space race” (whatever that means) leading to the collapse of the USSR (35 years after Sputnik and 30 years after Yuri Gagarin) makes no sense at all if she was only referring to what you say she was referring to.

    Facts matter.

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  9. wr says:

    Jay Tea: You think you’re making Palin look smarter by parsing her syllables. But if you’re right, then she’s made an even bigger fool of herself than Doug says.

    If what she was saying was that the Soviets won “that” space race — meaning she was referring only to Sputnik, not the race to the moon — then she also had to be referring only to the Sputnik race when she said “Yup, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union.”

    The Soviets incurred so much debt AT THE TIME OF SPUTNIK that it resulted in collapse… thirty years later.

    Which contradicts your last defense of her idiocy: “Finally, the Soviets’ frantic desire to compete with us and prove their superiority was absolutely a factor in their eventual downfall. It was their inability to keep up with the Reagan administration’s defense programs that bankrupted them. And their efforts in the space race were also a factor.”

    Or are you going to try to claim that the first sentence refers only to Sputnik, while the second sentence — which follows it immediately and makes specific reference to the actions it describes — is more of a general dicussion of Soviet competition in defense programs over the decades?

    You can’t have it both ways, Jay. Unless you’re just a slavish acolyte who will twist any work in a desperate attempt from facing the fact she has no clue what she’s talking about.

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  10. anjin-san says:

    - Facts matter.

    Not to Jay…

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  11. michael reynolds says:

    Once and for all, the USSR did not collapse because we outspent them in weaponry. They collapsed because the idea that a guy will work really hard for the identical borscht, clunky shoes and tacky apartment as his falling down drunk neighbor gets is stupid.

    Communism was a stupid idea. It was bad anthropology. It began by presupposing a form of human never witnessed in nature.

    That stupid idea was then managed by exactly the kinds of people you’d expect to find rising to the top of a stupid system.

    The inability of the USSR to spend as much as we did on weapons was a symptom of that underlying problem. Had communism not been a stupid system the Soviets could have matched us. Or better yet, not felt the need to match us.

    Ronald Reagan did not doom communism. Marx, Engels and Lenin doomed communism. To believe otherwise is to obliquely endorse communism as an effective system.

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  12. Jay Tea says:

    Doug, it’s perfectly clear — in the context of Sputnik (which prompted the whole discussion), the Soviets DID win “that space race.” And it was a hell of a wake-up call, as Obama noted — as was the Soviets’ domination of every other aspect of the space race right up until the last one.

    I would agree that it was symptomatic of the way we eventually did bring about the end of the Soviet Union, and — unlike you — I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she was attempting to draw a parallel and not a direct causative relationship.

    I took Palin’s comment to be comparing the space race to the arms race — that in each case the Soviets looked dominating and intimidating right up until the end, when our economy allowed us to win. And in the arms race, it did directly lead to the Soviet Union’s collapse.

    Which is an interesting observation, and I think has considerable merit.

    J.

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  13. Jay Tea says:

    Communism was a stupid idea. It was bad anthropology. It began by presupposing a form of human never witnessed in nature.

    That stupid idea was then managed by exactly the kinds of people you’d expect to find rising to the top of a stupid system.

    Preaching to the choir here, michael. Go tell that to the folks on YOUR side of the political divide. They seem to think that if we just try it hard enough (and, presumably, see if we can push the body count into 10 figures — we broke 9 a while ago), it’ll work.

    J.

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  14. Michael,

    Exactly. Ludwig von Mises and others predicted the inevitable collapse of Soviet-style economics when it first came into being in the 1920s. It violates very rule of human nature.

    I do think Reagan — along with Thatcher and Gorbachev — did serve a good purpose, though in that the three of them, in their own ways, ensured that when the Soviet Empire collapsed it would be a peaceful collapse and not some internal conflagration that could’ve led to international war. They each deserve credit for that IMO

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  15. swift boater says:

    I agree with you Doug that Palin is flat out wrong that the ‘race to space’ did not collapse the USSR. Period.

    But you left yourself open by implying that it is an open ended race (your response to Jay), that the ending did not occur with Sputnik, or an unmanned Earth orbit, or putting a living organism in a ship and returning to Earth alive, or a man in a ship, or a man orbiting the Earth, or the US winning in the race to the Moon. The finish line you left open ended.

    I submit to you then that here in 2011 the ‘race to space’ is now concluded and that indeed the Soviets/Russians did win it with Obama abandoning space. That is the finish line.

    Hopefully for America it will be resumed quickly if we can find the will (and the money) in a future Admin. I believe space exploration is vital not just to America but the entire world.

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  16. wr says:

    Good old Jay Tea — He’ll give Palin the benefit of the doubt even when no doubt exists. “Sure, she did say this, but if she actually meant THAT, then you have to admit it’s a pretty brilliant statement.”

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  17. swift boater says:

    Doug,

    You left out Pope John Paul II in the collapse of the USSR. He turned out to have more divisions than Stalin ever dreamed of.

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  18. Jay Tea says:

    Of course, Obama probably shouldn’t have reminded us that currently NASA’s current priority is outreach to Muslims to make them feel better about themselves…

    J.

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  19. wr says:

    Ooh, it’s Jay Tea with the pivot! Palin is clearly establishing herself as a moron, there’s no way to spin it — so repeat some BS rightwing spin about how terrible Obama is! Now no one will notice that Palin made an idiot out of herself again!

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  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    Has anyone except for like 3 or 4 people here read any non progressavised history books, or opinion peaces LOL so glad I dropped out of school stumbled across stuff on my own. so glad. And thank GOD for talk radio!!!!!

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  21. mantis says:

    Actually, Doug, I kind of ignored the whole “57 states” thing… until people started arguing that such slips were indications of stupidity.

    When was that? The 1940s?

    Jay thinks Democrats invented everything he doesn’t like.

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  22. An Interested Party says:

    “Go tell that to the folks on YOUR side of the political divide. They seem to think that if we just try it hard enough (and, presumably, see if we can push the body count into 10 figures — we broke 9 a while ago), it’ll work.”

    This, of course, is utter bullshit…what people on the left are advocating to do here what was done in the Soviet Union?

    “I submit to you then that here in 2011 the ‘race to space’ is now concluded and that indeed the Soviets/Russians did win it with Obama abandoning space. That is the finish line.”

    Wow, there’s some nice spin…is there anything else the president is guilty of? Maybe trying to destroy Western Civilization, perhaps?

    “Hopefully for America it will be resumed quickly if we can find the will (and the money) in a future Admin.”

    Oh, do tell where such money might be found? How about raising your taxes to pay for it…

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  23. mantis says:

    Once and for all, the USSR did not collapse because we outspent them in weaponry. They collapsed because the idea that a guy will work really hard for the identical borscht, clunky shoes and tacky apartment as his falling down drunk neighbor gets is stupid.

    Nah-uh! Reagan did it all by himself.

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  24. mantis says:

    Preaching to the choir here, michael. Go tell that to the folks on YOUR side of the political divide. They seem to think that if we just try it hard enough (and, presumably, see if we can push the body count into 10 figures — we broke 9 a while ago), it’ll work.

    Who, exactly, on “our side of the political divide” advocates adopting Communism? Btw, just claiming that Obama is a Communist doesn’t count.

    I’m willing to give her the benefit of the doubt that she was attempting to draw a parallel and not a direct causative relationship.

    So generous of you. Of course, if it was a Democrat who said it, you would have written a 2000 word treatise on how stupid and ahistorical the statement was.

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  25. john personna says:

    Palin’s paragraph, taken as a whole, is what you’d expect from a student who half-listened in American History.

    Poor Jay goes to the effort to pick out the bits that kind of make sense, if you forget the rest, and the way it’s held together.

    Seriously Jay, do you want national politicians you have to pick up after, like a bad puppy?

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  26. mantis says:

    Seriously Jay, do you want national politicians you have to pick up after, like a bad puppy?

    He was a big fan of George W. Bush. Nuff said.

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  27. anjin-san says:

    Doug have you ever read a history book? Of course there were many space races. There was “Sputnik – A New Hope” There was “Space Race Deaux – Yuri’s Excellent Adventure”. There was “Mercury Madness – The Sequel”. I think we won #6 “Men on the Moon” or something. REM wrote a song about it.

    There was also one called “Saturn 3″. Apparently Farah Fawcett became an astronaut after she quit Charlie’s Angles. Well, Sarah Palin is way hotter than she was anyway.

    There were many races.
    There are many copies…

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  28. PJ says:

    Wow. So communism works? From some comments here it seems that it only failed because of either the space race or defense spending. Nothing inherently wrong with the system?

    The important thing from all this is this:
    Palin is attacked once again! Vote for her in your primary! R-Mondale in 2012!

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  29. michael reynolds says:

    Doug:

    If we’re going to have shout outs to Reagan, Thatcher and Gorbachev (agree, agree and agree) let’s not forget George HW Bush. Subtlety and wisdom is hard for Americans to recognize and reward.

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  30. michael reynolds says:

    Swift:

    Yeah, JP2 as well and Lech Walesa.

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  31. anjin-san says:

    > George HW Bush

    Lousy on domestic issues, but a strong foreign policy President.

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  32. Jay Tea says:

    Of course, if it was a Democrat who said it, you would have written a 2000 word treatise on how stupid and ahistorical the statement was.

    mantis, if I was that obsessive about that, I’d do nothing but write about Joe Biden. The man is a one-man walking gaffe factory.

    2000 words? Slight exaggeration. I tend to run about 1,000, occasionally up to 1,500. Don’t think I’ve broken 2K very often. But yeah, I do write long.

    But back to Joe Biden… god help me, he just might be my favorite member of the Obama regime right about now…

    J.

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  33. An Interested Party says:

    Ahh, more of what Matt wrote about Jay on another thread…

    “Thanks Jay for confirming that you are indeed a Glenn Beck fan and for some reason your parents found the ‘well they do it too’ defense to be persuasive. Personally I realized that the ‘he did it first’ and ‘he does it too’ defenses weren’t really effective defenses by the ripe old age of 6..”

    Sarah Palin says stupid things but look over there! Joe Biden sucks! And this “defense,” such as it is, has the virtue of not needing anywhere near even 1000 words…

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  34. Smooth Jazz says:

    “but I really don’t get what Palin even meant by this comment.”

    Only a Palin Hating, Northeast Liberal can twist himself in knots trying to discern what she said as a negative – while admitting you have no clue what she meant. Reasonable people can disagree what she meant by parsing what she said, but you needed to satisfy your “Palin Hit Piece” fetish, so by the process of osmosis, whatever she meant was bad as far as you’re concerned. Don’t worry, Your invitation to appear on MS DNC will arrive any day now; Yes, the Repub Hating MS DNC.

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  35. john personna says:

    Gawd jazz, way to throw yourself on your sword.

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  36. anjin-san says:

    Smooth is sounding shrill indeed today.

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  37. An Interested Party says:

    “Don’t worry, Your invitation to appear on MS DNC will arrive any day now; Yes, the Repub Hating MS DNC.”

    These do not look like the words of someone who is simply a disinterested person who just wants to make sure poor Sarah just gets a fair chance…the fact of the matter is that there are real conservative and libertarian Republicans who are just not impressed with Sarah Palin and have a dim view of her as their party’s nominee in 2012, it is hardly the case that these people are closet liberals or secret members of the MSM…really, your ranting proves that you are the farthest thing from what you claim to be…

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  38. sam says:

    WFI – What a Fvcking Idiot

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  39. sam says:

    Jesus Christ! I just got it. Smooth is Rich Lowery!

    A very wise TV executive once told me that the key to TV is projecting through the screen. It’s one of the keys to the success of, say, a Bill O’Reilly, who comes through the screen and grabs you by the throat. Palin too projects through the screen like crazy. I’m sure I’m not the only male in America who, when Palin dropped her first wink, sat up a little straighter on the couch and said, “Hey, I think she just winked at me.” And her smile. By the end, when she clearly knew she was doing well, it was so sparkling it was almost mesmerizing. It sent little starbursts through the screen and ricocheting around the living rooms of America. This is a quality that can’t be learned; it’s either something you have or you don’t, and man, she’s got it.

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