On Wednesday night, Sarah Palin attacked the “Sputnik Moment” line from President Obama's second State of the Union address.
Sarah went on to say, “That was another one of those WTF Moments, when he so often repeated this Sputnik moment that he would aspire Americans to celebrate. And he needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that race to space, yes, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union.”
Sarah Palin in her Tea Party’s counter point rant, wildly misconstrued the president's argument, which was not about emulating the Soviets in the 1950's but instead about the Americans who responded to early Soviet success in space exploration by educating themselves and out-innovating the Soviets. I am seriously doubtful that Sarah could comprehend or more to the fact that did she even listen to the speech?
But let's pretend that wasn't Obama's point. The Soviets didn't have an empire-draining debt problem until some 30 years after Sputnik passed over America. And when they did, it was in large part a result of massive overinvestment in heavy industry, which supported Soviet military pretensions (Much like Bush and Cheney did). None of this is to argue that the Soviet economy is anything we should emulate. But let's at least get the basic facts right when we criticize it.
It's a fair guess that Palin thought she was borrowing her "insight" from the mythology of Ronald Reagan, who massively increased America's spending (Which took the U.S. from being the largest Creditor Nation to the largest Debtor Nation running up the largest record U.S. debt at that time. A fact the many self proclaiming Conservatives conveniently forget.) to spur the sort of competitive expenditure that contributed to the ballooning of Soviet debt in the 1980's. According to many conservatives, this was a crucial factor that catalyzed the Soviet collapse.
But in claiming that the Soviets incurred their consequential debts long before Reagan was president, Palin ends up arguing that the Gipper wasn't nearly that responsible for the USSR spending itself to death. If a reverence for Reagan's anti-Soviet spending inspired her narrative in the first place, then this is incoherent. If she's just making this all up, then she's really also claiming that the “Reagan Brought Down The USSR” narrative is overstated.
Palin appears to be lazily checking a lot of Fox News boxes. She wants to criticize Obama's State of the Union address, so she grabs hold of the Sputnik line. She wants to make a point about debt, so she invents a history in which the USSR had a debt crisis decades before this inference could have made much sense. Even better -- her argument sounds like an implicit vindication of Reagan, but that really just makes it either self-contradictory or hostile to Reagan's legacy.
Even worse, it seems that Palin planned her rhetorical disaster; as she goes on to discuss the "Spudnut Shop," a bakery in Washington State that's succeeding without government support.
Sarah Palin’s latest demonstration of her personal lacking qualities are yet more evidence that her judgment in both what she says and who she has vetted, is pathetic. It's not even cleverly manipulative. It is just sad and speaks volumes of those Tea Party members who follow her!!