January 26, 2011

Is it possible to declare a "Sputnik moment"?

The President tried last night:
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.
But how do you have Sputnik without Sputnik? The Soviets launching their satellite shocked Americans into a period of intense activity and achievement. It's nice to want to do that again, but there's not an equivalent incentivizing advance by an imposing and feared foreign competitor.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. What is? Are we playing let's pretend? Nothing is scaring us and lighting a fire under us. In fact, it's hard for us now, with our long perspective, even to understand why Sputnik was such a huge motivation. Ask some under-50 Americans today: Why was it so important to beat the Soviets in sending men to the moon? Ask them when/if the Soviets got a man to the moon. I'll bet they can't even give plausible answers. I'll bet even the over-50s are hit-or-miss when it comes to answering the question whether the Soviets got a man to the moon.

So what on earth — or on the moon — does Obama think he will get out of the mere verbal tag "Sputnik"? If you remember how Sputnik felt — and I do — you'll probably say, but there is  no equivalent of Sputnik. There are just a lot of countries, full of human beings, trying to get ahead economically, like us — not against us. There's no race with dramatic consequences for the winners and losers, and there's no impressive physical object that signifies that bad guys are winning the race. If you don't remember Sputnik, you're like: Sputnik?

***

Bonus Bob Dylan lyric:
Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been told
The streets in heaven are lined with gold
I ask you how things could get much worse
If the Russians happen to get up there first
Wowee! pretty scary!

Now, I’m liberal, but to a degree
I want ev’rybody to be free
But if you think that I’ll let Barry Goldwater
Move in next door and marry my daughter
You must think I’m crazy!
I wouldn’t let him do it for all the farms in Cuba

96 comments:

Sixty Grit said...

Of course he wants to talk about Sputnik. The housing market is tanking, gasoline prices are rising, the muzzies are rioting, terrorism is unabated, and worst of all, socialism is not gaining ground here.

My guess is he will invent a crisis or hire another leftest gunman to improve his ratings.

Leland said...

There is that new Chinese 5th generation fighter and their Anti-ship ballestic missile. But alas, the President just hosted China, so perhaps that's not what he meant. I concede your point.

Scott M said...

Simple. Putting a payload into orbit means you can put a payload pretty much where you want, ie, ICBM's. That was pretty shocking to a populace already doing the whole "duck and cover" thing in school drills.

For our under-50's...which includes yours truly...I admit I would suffer quite a sense of ennui if another nation beats us BACK to the moon. The even money, if they don't burst a bubble or two, is on the Chinese who are flush with cash. However, they have a lot of catch-up to do.

Anheuser-Busch being bought by foreigners was bad enough. Someone else beating us back to the moon might really drive home a national sense of what the British must have felt after WWII as their former empire crumbled.

LakeLevel said...

Global Warming = Sputnik

shoutingthomas said...

Uh, where are the jobs?

Illegal immigration takes away jobs from lower middle class white men. Now, you may think that Americans don't want construction jobs. I know quite a few white guys who like to make their living out of the back of a pickup truck. They don't want to kiss some woman's ass in an office.

Obama is an open borders guy.

Race and sex quotas make hiring white guys problematic. You'll get hit with "disparate impact" lawsuits from the EEOC. Hiring blacks who don't work out will land you in court with a discrimination lawsuit. Easier to outsource to India or hire Indian green card contractors.

Obama is the king of race and sex quotas.

Obama is the problem, not the solution, when it comes to job creation.

Government workers aren't unemployed. This recession has devastated middle and lower class white guys, because they are at the bottom of the race and sex quota game.

The "investment" ploy is just a code word for more government spending. Government spending allows for even more gaming of the race and sex quota and set-aside rackets. Plenty of kickbacks and graft for Obama's political allies.

Dudley Do-right said...

""This is our generation's Sputnik moment." What is? Are we playing let's pretend? Nothing is scaring us and lighting a fire under us."

No, Ann, for once, he's right. Obama and the left's agenda is scaring us and has lit a fire under the Tea Party. Last night's SOTU was delivered by Sputnik...

Paddy O said...

The trouble is that we're the sputnik for all the other nations. Everyone tries to compete and be better, sometimes in science or production or manufacturing. Or, in Europe, in quality of life.

Meanwhile, we float around the world, incessantly beeping.

Paddy O said...

"has lit a fire under the Tea Party."

Even more true.

Paco Wové said...

I think it's more the Wile E. Coyote moment.

AllenS said...

This speech sounds like it was no different than any other speech obama's ever made. Yet 90+% of all blacks will think that it was brilliant, along with a lot of other people that you would think should be smarter. What a waste of time.

Basil said...

Would somebody please point out the obvious? Obama is running to the center again, just like he did in his run for the presidency in 2008. Given what he did after he took office, why should anybody believe him anymore now, that he really means any of this crap? If I want a president who praises tax cuts and a roaring stock market, he (or she!) is probably going to have an (R) after her (or his) name, thank you very much. It certainly won't be Obama.

Michael said...

Yes, if by Spudnik moment you mean cramming ten minutes into an hour and ten minutes. Physics.

Pogo said...

Sputnik means 'I'm JFK!!'.

But he's actually Teddy.

Fred4Pres said...

As much as I want to curb spending, I am all for going to Mars. Why? Because it would be good for us as a species to get off this rock.

Fred4Pres said...

Obama should have said he wanted a crash course for developing unobtainium as an energy source, with his new green czar James Cameron.

Peano said...

"This is our generation's Sputnik moment."

The smaller the understanding of the situation, the more pretentious the form of expression.

Florida said...

This was Obama's Sputtering Moment.

When Barack Obama needed to look into the past to find a significant achievement to make a metaphor, and naturally FOCUSED on a Communist Party achievement.

He could have easily said this was our "Neil Armstrong moment" or "Apollo 11 moment" or pointed out that our Pioneer 11 spacecraft is the farthest man-made object from the Earth at this moment in time.

No ... Obama needed something Communist to highlight.

The guy is a washed up douchebag unimpressed with American ingenuity and he's hardly able to even fake it for one night.

Fuck him and the horse he rode in on. Democrats had better dump this fucking loser or they're going to be swept into the dustbin of history along with all the other doddering old commies.

Scott M said...

The SOTU speech translation from it's original Arabic got screwed up. It was supposed to be a bit of presidential snark about Spuds McKenzie, in celebration of all this administration has done in the first two years, but the guy that normally keys in the teleprompter hadn't got back from his flight out of Domodedovo.

AJ Lynch said...

Not enough pragmatism for you Althouse?

MayBee said...

Thank you, Althouse. I kept wondering *why* this is our Sputnik moment.

Quayle said...

This is out Sputnik moment?

No, this is a "crises of confidence" moment when we see with new eyes that our president is in way over his head and his administration is clueless about how to lead.

To which I say, get the hell out of the way and the American people will do what they always do and move us forward.

Robert Burnham said...

The Sputnik shock (disclosure: it was launched one week before my 10th birthday) is almost certainly unrepeatable due to the differences in the world situation between then and now — and especially given the differences in public opinion as it was in 1957 and now.

I can see why O. would like to do a repeat, but it really isn't achievable. Too much has changed, and on the left, pervasive anti-Americanism stops them from doing anything similar.

Pogo said...

Sputnik = Squirrel!!1!

Florida said...

"Illegal immigration takes away jobs from lower middle class white men."

Not only this, but illegal immigration depresses everyone's wages (and thus, reduces the amount of tax dollars available for federal spending).

For example: If you remove illegal immigrants from the farm fields ... then farmers will have to do one of two things:

1) Innovate new methods of harvesting their crops, or

2) Raise wages to attract American labor.

Innovation (and all the jobs that go with creating new machines) is being crushed because there is a steady supply of slave labor being allowed to come into the country illegally by Democrats who want their votes.

The reason that Americans don't want migrant farm worker jobs is because illegal immigrants have so depressed the wages that these jobs are not worth the pay offered. Who wants to pick apples for $6 an hour? Nobody. So those Americans who might take those jobs if they paid a living wage instead go into other fields of endeavor ... thus increasing the labor pool in those other areas and depressing wages for jobs that have nothing to do with farming.

Everybody loses ... except the Democrats ... who get illegal voters.

Illegal immigration is a pox on our country and the root cause of the unemployment and underemployment rate of 17%.

Democrats are the only beneficiaries of this steady supply of slave labor.

ricpic said...

First crush the e-e-e-vil oil companies! Then the sky's the limit.

AllenS said...

"We are the ones we've been waiting for"

"The few, the proud, the Sputnik."

master cylinder said...

Anybody here under 50? Of course the odd ones are-myself included, but not a majority I'd bet.
Obama refers to Sputnik because the older demographic is the one he struggles with most.
The younger ones are already behind him and weren't watching anyway.

virgil xenophon said...

Obama is counting on being still able to fool "enough of the people enough of the time." This was "hype the natives" once more with platitudes time, nothing more, nothing less. The election campaign of 2012 is well under way..

Scott M said...

I'm under fifty and you can too.

Florida said...

"First crush the e-e-e-vil oil companies! "

Jesus fuck, I hope he waits until we thaw out up here in the Northeast. It was 13 below zero yesterday (with wind chills driving temperatures to 25 below zero) where 75% of the homes are heated with diesel fuel we could be drilling for right here in the United State is Barack Obama would get the fuck out of the way.

Instead, we're shipping $3.50 a gallon to terrorists in Saudi Arabia and setting our thermostats to 50.

I'm tired of fucking freezing my ass off so Barack Obama can make kissy faces and bow to his boyfriend King Saud.

Scott M said...

Honestly, as I said yesterday, I think the populace is far too cynical for the broadly televised dog and pony show that the SOTU has become. I call (like they're listening, but still I call) on Congress to not invite him next year and for him to simply send a letter.

Or an email. Save a tree, you know?

Henry said...

If this is our Sputnick moment, what has brought it to pass is our own policies. The cause is the tepid populism of wishful thinking perfectly represented by our President of the moment, Mr. Obama.

He might as well have said "We are our own Sputnick."

The value of the term Sputnick is that it presents the budgetary crisis as a deux ex machina. It is to treat the fiscal and bureaucratic failure of the system as an act of God (ironic, given the provenance of Sputnick). The president can thus declaim bright new ideas without having to explain how they are any different than his last set of bright new ideas.

TosaGuy said...

Hard to rally a generation to national greatness that's been told that the US isn't all that big of a deal.

madAsHell said...

Sputnik - October 4, 1957
Obama - August 4, 1961

What the hell does he know about Sputnik?

Did he see it on TV over at Biden's house?

Quayle said...

Obama framed the election as the people telling Washington that they want the parties to work together.

No, that was not the message of the last election. That was the result of the framers staggering the national elections.

Had every national politician been on the slate, the message would unmistakably and unalterably have been that the people want you, Obama, and your lying band of spendthrift lefties out on your cans.

tree hugging sister said...

I always thought "Sputnik" was one of the least inspiring words I know.

Jesus fuck, I hope he waits until we thaw out up here in the Northeast.

If Anne will forgive me the indulgence, World News Tonight was kind enough to help the White House out with an explanation for your suffering and I blogged it this morning, along with the embedded video. Boils down to "Global warming is freezing" ~ simple really. Should have seen it coming.

So bundle up and know, in the eyes of "settled science", you brought that shit on yourself.

lemondog said...

...trying to get ahead economically, like us — not against us

It is well known that the Chinese, with their 2 trillion dollar cash surplus, are buying up as much natural resources as they can for current and future development. We on the other hand are dead broke, having gone from the world greatest creditor to the world greatest debtor ever. We do not have the money to compete. If we ever get into a resource war with China and if we have have no energy resources to fuel the military, then what.


China Gains Key Assets In Spate of Purchases


Bonus Bob Dylan lyric:

All that foreign oil controlling American soil
Look around you, it's just bound to make you embarrassed
Sheiks walking around like kings, wearing fancy jewels and nose rings
Deciding America's future from Amsterdam and to Paris
And there's slow, slow train coming up around the bend.


A little dated but you get the point.

Florida said...

"Hard to rally a generation to national greatness that's been told that the US isn't all that big of a deal."

Barack Obama's definition of a big deal is updating his Facebook profile.

Twitter is the future.

Myspace.

OMGF.

Barack Obama looks across the breadth and depth of this nation and that is where he sees American greatness? Fucking Facebook? He didn't really say that stupid shit, did he?

I've got a message for Barack Obama: "We're angry as hell birds and we're not going to tweet it any more."

garage mahal said...

No ... Obama needed something Communist to highlight.?

The Sputnik reference refers to the U.S. competing against the Soviet Union, shit for brains.

tree hugging sister said...

I've got a message for Barack Obama: "We're angry as hell birds and we're not going to tweet it any more."


At the rate he's going, we won't have a feather to fly with.

bagoh20 said...

He was spot on on this analogy. HE is Sputnik, and it's scary, because he's been launched by a bunch of collectivist nuts with a doomed idea and the power to do great damage.

There was much I agreed with the President on last night, but having him say it was ridiculous and insultingly disingenuous.

AJ Lynch said...

"We will Win The Future by repeating old stuff done by dead presidents"

bagoh20 said...

To understand why Sputnik was such a threat you need to understand men and why the world would be a dim place without them.

bagoh20 said...

"The Sputnik reference refers to the U.S. competing against the Soviet Union, shit for brains."

What would we do without you? It's like our own private Obama spokeshole, always ready to remind us of how the narrative should be interpreted not how we hear it.

Florida said...

"The Sputnik reference refers to the U.S. competing against the Soviet Union, shit for brains."

Yes, Barack's point was that Americans today are lazy and uncompetitive ... just like when the Communists kicked our ass.

Fuck him.

We're not lazy. We're not uncompetitive. And I don't appreciate my president telling me that in a speech before our country.

How are we supposed to compete against slaves living under a Communist dictatorship forced to work 12-hour days for a fucking pittance? China is a Communist dictatorship and yet he's throwing parties for their dictator and begging them to buy our fucking bonds so he can give his teacher's unions raises.

Fuck Barack Obama.

Here's a guy who golfs for a fucking living when he's not too busy taking million-dollar Hawaiian vacations on our dime and he's going to lecture Americans about how lowly Communists used to whip our lazy asses.

Fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

He's an asshat and a douchebag and it's going to be fun turning him out of our White House in two short years.

Henry said...

We are the Sputnik we've been waiting for.

madAsHell said...

I had to look up Obama's birthday on Wikipedia, and then I stumbled upon this:

...with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.

WTF!! Did he not pass the bar?

shoutingthomas said...

Drill baby drill!

Sarah Palin is the only sensible politician in America.

Not everybody wants to or can work for NASA. Not everybody wants to or can be a programmer or a web designer.

We need factory and blue collar jobs.

To repeat... Obama is systematically and deliberately destroying our ability to maintain these jobs.

His open borders policy puts lower class American men out of work. His race and sex quota obsession puts middle class American men out of work. The racism/sexism racket makes it cheaper to outsource to India.

And, he's breaking all of our backs by shutting down our own sources of energy production... oil and coal.

This guy, Obama, is the problem. The left's hatred of lower and middle class white men is one hell of a problem.

Remember the dumb fuck play in Madison? Who was the villain who leftists just knew was a secret Hitler admirer... a lower middle class white guy who drives a truck.

ddh said...

Leave it to a guy born in 1961 to describe how we Americans felt when Sputnik was launched in 1957 and do it in a way that underscores that he doesn't know what he's talking about.

Speaking as someone who remembers Sputnik first hand, I recall the added sense of military vulnerability that this Soviet satellite created. Consequently, Eisenhower in 1958 signed the National Defense Education Act to support university-level science, engineering, and foreign language education because Americans feared we were falling behind the Soviets. JFK as a candidate in 1960 promised to close the so-called missile gap in military ICBMs.

After becoming President, Kennedy proposed the moon program as a kind of a prestige project--to show the world that a free society could outperform a totalitarian, planned economy. The economic spin-offs came as the serendipitous results of achieving Kennedy's goal of putting a man on the moon by the end of the 1960s but were never even a major purpose of the moon program.

Obama seems to think we launched the moon program so we could have Teflon cookware and Tang. The American public never bought that argument for the space program, but I guess the President wants to see if we'll buy it now.

Leland said...

"We're angry as hell birds and we're not going to tweet it any more."

Obama's the Eagle. When you can't beat the level, you just spend some money and by an Eagle. Then you are guaranteed to win, and the birds won't be angry. Nothing was learned, but the birds won't be angry.

garage mahal said...

What would we do without you? It's like our own private Obama spokeshole, always ready to remind us of how the narrative should be interpreted not how we hear it.

So were you confused with the Sputnik reference? What did you think he meant?

Sofa King said...

MadAsHell: "Inactive" simply means he has a license but cannot practice. That exempts him from CLE requirements and usually means a dues reduction. It is common for attorneys who are not actually practicing law to set their status to "inactive" (as I myself have done.)

Sixty Grit said...

Clinton knows far more about Teflon and 'Tang than any other president, save Kennedy.

WV: votiqs - voting booths used by muzzies only.

Scott M said...

So were you confused with the Sputnik reference? What did you think he meant?

Given the polarization about the size and heavy hand of government in our country, with this administration in particular, you would think that someone around the President would have said, "do you suppose we should stay away from references to oppressive, overreaching governments...communists in particular?"

He should send a letter next year.

William said...

I'm old enough to remember that it did not take long for the left to sour on our space program. They felt sending men to the moon was a waste of money when there were so many more deserving projects here on earth. And we should also reflect that the space program was staffed almost entirely by men so white and middle class that they felt the need to wear pocket protectors. Should federal funds have been spent giving such people employment? The space program was never beloved by the left save in retrospect.

Saint Croix said...

Sputnik was a big deal because Commies were dangerous fucks who were in the process of killing 100 million people.

A Sputnik moment would be, say, Iran announcing that it has a nuclear weapon.

Or China announcing that they are not going to buy dollars any more, while at the same time announcing an embargo on rare earth metals and silver bullion.

A Sputnik moment scares the crap out of people.

bagoh20 said...

"So were you confused with the Sputnik reference? What did you think he meant?"

I don't think he knows what he meant, anymore than his 29 year old speech writer does.

I suppose he meant we lost confidence once, then somehow did good, or something deep like that.

But I didn't go to Harvard, so I'm lost.

Lgbpop said...

He's gotta be kidding. What happened with Sputnik in October 1957 happened because we believed God smiled on America, we were pure and our purpose noble, and everyone in the world looked up to us. It was inconceivable for a godless bunch of commies to control space.

Now, fifty-three years later, we've been harangued by leftists for a generation that our system is evil, we suck, no one's better than anyone else and our goal should be reversion to hunter-gathers. (just remember, don't kill anything and plants have feelings too.)

So as ye sow, so shall ye reap...

virgil xenophon said...

If Obama is so beloved of the Sputnik "meme" he should re-name the WH dog Laika. (Spunik 2)

Of course Laika died---saaayyy, maybe Laika WOULD be a good metaphor for what Obama is doing to the country--performing experiments with untried/faulty science--in the case of the Soviets and Laika, aerospace, in ours Obama, the American public and economics..

Saint Croix said...

I had to look up Obama's birthday on Wikipedia, and then I stumbled upon this:

...with his law license becoming inactive in 2002.

WTF!! Did he not pass the bar?


No. He went inactive. I went inactive. It's what attorneys do when you quit the practice of law.

"Law license" means he passed the bar.

After that your options are to "go inactive" or "get disbarred" or "die a lawyer."

bagoh20 said...

Let's hope we don't have a real Sputnik moment with this deer in the headlights.

For Althouse: a Sputnik moment is when you find yourself technologically behind your sworn enemy - one who says things like: "We will bury you!" It's the realization that you are suddenly on the down end of an existential see saw. A moment that requires extreme action to prevent being buried, which is a bad thing.

Scott M said...

It's the realization that you are suddenly on the down end of an existential see saw. A moment that requires extreme action to prevent being buried, which is a bad thing.

A point of order...it's far more like being on the up side of the see-saw, but you have just realized that your worst enemy on the other side is going to jump off and you haven't got a cup on.

garage mahal said...


But I didn't go to Harvard, so I'm lost.


I don't think Harvard is the problem.

bagoh20 said...

This is the worse possible time to have elected this inexperienced, mal-educated, unchallenged, confused child.

But, there is that thing about learning from your mistakes. Will we?

AllenS said...

In present day America, we have more people in college taking African American studies than we do taking science classes. Who's up for some midnight basketball?

The Drill SGT said...

The "Sputnik moment" is a bogus rhetorical tool. The programs put in place by Eisenhower and Kennedy were clearly focused on hard technology and had measurable success.

We engineered our way to the finish line without any regard for the consumer byproducts that resulted.

When Obama says Sputnik moment, he's talking about a corporatist approach that will pick firms, not based on the best technology, but beacause they are "right thinking" or have an intermediate product that he wants the people to use. Government will be used to create the regulatory environment and the market pressure to force use iof the products, be they green cars, wind, solar, CFL, or smart grid.

The winners will be Big Corporatist firms like GE, not innovative start-ups.

Investment in this context is another term for pork

Anthony said...

I didn't watch it. A) I never watch presidential speeches because, as they say, talk is cheap. B) I was out walking and trying to dissuade a cat from following us all the way home.

Our Sputnik moment was Greece. He didn't get that.

Larry J said...

If we can put a man on the moon (actually, 12 men on 6 different missions), why can't we elect a decent president?

Rialby said...

80% of Americans alive today have absolutely no memory of Sputnik.

In addition, Sputnik was an external event that bound us together (9/11 would be a more current example that BHO doesn't want to use).

This is an internal crisis of our own making (read: Liberals who wanted a bloated hyper-state created this problem).

Scott M said...

If we can put a man on the moon (actually, 12 men on 6 different missions), why can't we elect a decent president?

Why? Because we've had a specific chunk of our culture telling us that our culture sucks for about 40 years. Why else would we tell small children that "everyone is special" and that there's no point in keeping score in sports?

Hint: Even kids as young as five know instinctively that both of those sentiments are bullshit of the highest order.

How we claw our way out of this self-inflicted morass is anyone's guess at this point. For my own part, I'll not be raising my children along those lines and will try as much as possible to associate them with other parents doing the same.

edutcher said...

Hate to say it, but master's right. Unless you're in the first cohort of the Baby Boomers, Sputnik is this side of meaningless.

On the younger demographic thing, he's wrong as always - standard FUD talking point from Kos. Look at a Tea Party sometime.

If The Zero had said he was decertifying all public sector unions including teachers, that would have been a Sputnik moment.

shoutingthomas said...

Drill baby drill!

Sarah Palin is the only sensible politician in America.

Not everybody wants to or can work for NASA. Not everybody wants to or can be a programmer or a web designer.

We need factory and blue collar jobs.


Smokestack industry as we think of it is dead, but we can get back into manufacturing if the Demos ever cut taxes and regulation. That's what sends jobs overseas.

But not sending everybody to college - especially those who are never going to get anything out of it - means another level of Leftist indoctrination is lost and we might actually get competitive again.

PaulV said...

garage, Thanks for pointing out that neither Obama nor his lackeys got the message, sent by the People. that Obama failed program is refudiated.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Bonus Bob Dylan lyric:
Well, I don’t know, but I’ve been told
The streets in heaven are lined with gold
I ask you how things could get much worse
If the Russians happen to get up there first


Based on an old cadence call, I believe.

I don't know, but I been told
Airborne Rangers are good as gold
They are mean and carry a gun
Kill them Commies just for fun

Roux said...

I was unable to listen last night but caught the recap later. One of my 20 something kids was watching with me and asked, "What is Sputnik?".

Does Obama really think this was a way to reconnect to independent minded younger voters? Sheesh.... He's just an idiot. This guy is dumber than Jimmy Carter.

michaele said...

Rush should crib off of Althouse and some of her commenters for his critique of this Sputnik nonsense. Love Henry's "we are our own Sputnik".

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mick said...

bagoh20 said...

"This is the worse possible time to have elected this inexperienced, mal-educated, unchallenged, confused child.

But, there is that thing about learning from your mistakes. Will we?"




with no attachment or allegiance to the US and ineligible by A2S1C5. There that should do it

Sofa King said...

Obama said "Sputnik moment" but what he described was really more of a "Reichstag moment."

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

I prefer our Telstar moment.

"Launched by NASA aboard a Delta rocket from Cape Canaveral on July 10, 1962, Telstar 1 was the first privately-sponsored space launch"...

Back when industry was able to innovate and create. Remember all the good stuff that came from Bell Labs?

** one more time with the proper links and correct spelling. Gaaah!

Paul Zrimsek said...

Remember, Obama was too young to know about Bill Ayers' bombs; Sputnik was over a decade earlier still.

Kroshka said...

@madawaskan

Sorry, but "sputnik" does not mean "little traveler." It means "fellow traveler," someone who travels along with you.

Scott M said...

Bill Ayers was in Ishtar?

Cedarford said...

Larry J said...
If we can put a man on the moon (actually, 12 men on 6 different missions), why can't we elect a decent president?

=================
Answer: Human and Constitutional flaws.
Part-answer: The folly of looking at one technology and saying success in that area will naturally mean success in wildly different technological or societal areas.

1. Medical costs will not be halved as microprocessors get faster and cheaper every generation.
2. Putting men on the moon did not mean natural, same timeframe success in Nixon's War on Cancer.
3. Educating many to match then surpass the Soviet production of scientists and engineers did not mean that we had many sons of black thugs able or inclined to enter the scientist-engineer pipeline.
4. Putting men on the moon does not mean our system is designed to give us better than Bush-Kerry in 2004 or McCain-Obama in 2008.

howzerdo said...

A lasting impact of the response to Sputnik was that the NDEA increased the federal role in public education. So maybe that was Obama's intention with the reference.

roesch-voltaire said...

There is an interesting discussion of this topic on Andrew C. Revkin's Dot. Earth where Andrew Hargadon points out the times have changed about how we think about innovation-- but there is a general agreement on the need for more R&D to keep us competitive.

David said...

Sputnik was a dumb tool that got the attention of the world by circling the earth while making useless noises.

See any analogies?

Revenant said...

there is a general agreement on the need for more R&D to keep us competitive

So relax the regulatory barriers to R&D and stop threatening to seize profits from those who have completed development.

J said...

This is your ........Slut-nik moment, Miss A. :]

Joe said...

The Russians beat the US into space with Sputnik largely due to the US space program being handled very poorly and without vision. One thing that continually hampered the US program was the insistence on using "civilian" technology as launch vehicles.

Interestingly, the JPL built and launched Explorer 1 84 days after Sputnik 1, and it actually did something useful! It stayed in orbit for 12 years and discovered the Van Allen radiation belt.

Two months after Sputnik 1, Vanguard 1 went up and is still in orbit! It also made several discoveries, such as that the earth is slightly pear shaped.

One could argue that the result of Sputnik was for the government bureaucrats to get out of the way of the scientists and engineers. Hmm.

AST said...

The real thing he should be invoking is 1938-39 when FDR saw the signs of war coming from Europe and called off his dogs who were attacking business at every opportunity. He knew that to be prepared, our industrial might needed to be ready to go. Obama doesn't know what he's talking about.

John Lynch said...

Who is the enemy? If there's no enemy, then it isn't Sputnik.

Liberals love the rhetoric of war, just not the war.

Blair said...

Is having a "Sputnik moment" something similar to "Jumping the shark"? I think it must be...

vet66 said...

I remember the "Sputnik Moment" and the "duck and cover" nonsense in case of nuclear attack. It is apparent that Obama has no idea what it was like back then except his total dislike for all things U.S.A.

I think a better description would be "Sputnik MOVEMENT" as in bomb shelters built big enough for your family only and not your neighbors and friends. Presumably, they would be banging on your bomb shelter door slowing dying on your doorstep as the pounding became more feeble until...silence.

Obama is our 'Sputnik moment' rapidly morphing into a "Sputnik Movement."

Martin L. Shoemaker said...

The President chose a weak metaphor.

The President has a naive view of Centrally Planned Engineering that's never going to work. (I drank this Kool-Aid all through the Carter years, and it's pretty stale today. His speech was almost a direct echo of a Carter speech.)

But if somehow, some way, he encouraged more kids to become engineers -- real engineers, not people chasing the latest wishful thinking -- then despite himself he would accomplish a very good thing.

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