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ComPost: Sarah Palin on the 'Race to Space,' Sputnik and Spudnut

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By Alexandra Petri
Thursday, January 27, 2011; 2:27 PM

Dear Sarah Palin,

Based on your comments to Greta van Susteren on Fox News last night about the State of the Union address, I think there has been a slight misunderstanding. Or, possibly, several large misunderstandings.

I liked your coinage of "WTF moments" from President Obama's phrase, "winning the future."

I also enjoyed your analysis that:

"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."

It's not that I agree with the sentiments you are expressing, but I like the way you say it. It's like a tonal poem. It sounds like the classic Beatles song "Dig a Pony," with people aspiring other people to celebrate things in a strange, contorted syntax.

But I have to say: seriously?

Even I understood what the Sputnik Moment was supposed to refer to. It's the moment when you suddenly notice, to your chagrin, that someone else is making strides and you need to step up your game. President Obama wasn't saying "We need to do the modern-day equivalent of launching the first man-made satellite into orbit." He wasn't saying, "We must emulate the USSR, socialize the means of production, and give unconvincing factory tours until our inevitable collapse that was, honestly, not in any way triggered by the spending that went into our side of the race to space." Or at least if he did, I missed that portion of the speech.

What he was saying was, we need to look ahead so we don't fall behind. I don't want to split hairs about whether the Space Race and the Race to Space are the same or different -- they did win the race to put something in space, if not what is popularly referred to as the Space Race, which culminated in our landing on the moon, so, well, okay, let's, as Adam Sandler says, Just Go With It.

But after this, for several minutes that we as a nation will never get back, you rambled about a bakery called the "Spudnut Shop," that doesn't want the government telling it how to operate, or something:

"Well, the spudnut shop in Richland, Washington -- 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 to 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."


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