Earth calling Barack. Earth calling Barack: Do you have any idea which country ultimately won the space race—and why?
This question goes to the heart of what was so wrong with the President’s State of the Union address.
Instead of celebrating the freedom, prosperity, ingenuity, and natural abundance that enabled America to put the first man on the moon, Obama missed the point completely. He talked not of an “Apollo moment” or a “Mercury moment,” but of “our generation’s Sputnik moment.” That’s Sputnik, as in the bad guys.
If you want to know how bad, consider the fate of Laika, the first dog in space. She was deliberately sent up there to die. Can you imagine Americans being so callous, even in the 1950s?
Or if you prefer, go to the Smithsonian or NASA and look at the size of the capsules the Soviets used to put their first men in space. The thing you immediately notice is how tiny the capsules are—designed with no thought whatsoever for the comfort of the men inside. Unlike the (relatively pampered) U.S. astronauts, those Soviet cosmonauts headed into space literally packed like sardines in a can, with their knees up against their chins and no way of stretching for the entire mission.
But here’s the key: Despite all that ruthless cost-cutting, and even though the Soviet space authorities made far less effort than their counterparts at NASA to ensure the safety of their spacecraft—even then the Soviets failed. Not only did they fail to put a man on the moon, but the cost of their earlier exertions placed such a strain on their economy that the entire Soviet experiment failed too. Is that really an example the U.S. should be following if, as Obama puts it, it is to “win the future”? (WTF?)
Well, obviously not. And in any case, we should ever be suspicious when a liberal starts singing the praises of the space race. Traditionally, space has been a conservative sphere, a place for God-fearing young men with buzz cuts and exemplary war records, oozing testosterone, dangerous patriotism, and an unhealthy love of weaponry, the most ostentatious embodiment of the vast “military-industrial complex” that young liberals are taught from an early age to fear and loathe. However, there are few things that get liberals more excited than an excuse to mobilize the entire nation in the service of a great cause. That’s “mobilize” as in “allow Big Government to take over everything.”
This, of course, is the exact opposite of what the Republicans who have just taken over the House believe. And it is why the next two years are going to be so very interesting. When Obama declares, “Now is the time for both sides and both house of Congress—Democrats and Republicans—to forge a principled compromise that gets the job done,” he is whistling in the wind. There can be no common ground between an ideology that sees big government as the solution to our problems, and the ideology that sees big government as their cause.
If Obama’s “Sputnik moment” is the best he can offer America, then America is truly doomed. It stands about as much chance of saving the U.S. economy as Laika did of coming back to have her Hero of the Soviet Union medal pinned to her fur.