The problem is we’ve had countless Sputnik moments in recent decades that have created little more than space junk.Sarah Palin:
[Obama] needs to remember that, uh, what happened back then with the communist U.S.S.R. and their victory in that race to space.... Yeah, they won but they also incurred so much debt at the time that it resulted in the inevitable collapse of the Soviet Union.Okay, Coburn's comment may be more of a metaphor about government waste. But I'm surprised to hear him even metaphorically dismissing the space race as wasteful. And Palin is technically right that the Soviets were the first into space, although I don't think I've ever heard a politician -- no less an America-firster like Palin -- suggest that the Soviets "won" the space race or that too much investment in a space program can kill your country.
I'm not suggesting that these folks are wrong to question the value of a manned space program, but I'm surprised to read it. The manned space program has always enjoyed bipartisan support. Ike pushed it, JFK strongly identified himself with the moonshot, Nixon's signature (unlike Brezhnev's) is on the friggin' moon for the next five billion years or so, Reagan was closely tied with the Space Shuttle, etc. Are conservatives now giving up on this program? Even if it's a simple case of Obama's-fer-it-so-I'm-agin-it, it's kind of surprising.