"Governor," said Van Susteren. "Last night, there was a lot of discussion about the 'Sputnik moment' that the president talked about. Do you agree with him? Do you feel, is this our moment?"
Palin responded, "That was another one of those WTF moments when [Mr. Obama] so often repeated the 'Sputnik Moment' that he would aspire Americans to celebrate. He needs to remember that what happened back then with the former communist USSR and their victory in that race to space, yeah, they won, but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it led to the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union."
During the State of the Union address Tuesday, Mr. Obama said:
"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'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even 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. This is our generation's Sputnik moment."
Palin seems to have a misunderstanding of the analogy. Mr. Obama was suggesting that when the Soviet Union beat the United States into space in 1957 with the launch of Sputnik, that victory spurred Americans to push science to the limits that led directly to the American moon landing in 1969.
Mr. Obama used the analogy to compare the U.S. to China and India and to suggest that those countries' investments in, for example, green technology and information technology should spur the United States to research and develop better technologies so that the United States may remain a world leader. He wasn't cheering on the former Soviet Union.