When Sputnik burst onto the national scene, there was a rapid and sustained whir of public opinion condemning the Eisenhower administration for neglecting the American space program. The Sputnik crisis reinforced for many [xix] people the popular conception that Eisenhower was a smiling incompetent; it was another instance of a "do-nothing," golf-playing president mismanaging events. G. Mennen Williams, the Democratic governor of Michigan, even wrote a poem about it:My two cents...The Commies and Yanks battle it out, Indians take the best of both worlds by keeping Non-Aligned!!!
Oh little Sputnik, flying high
With made-in-Moscow beep,
You tell the world it's a Commie sky
and Uncle Sam's asleep.
You say on fairway and on rough
The Kremlin knows it all,
We hope our golfer knows enough
To get us on the ball.
It was a shock, creating the illusion of a technological gap and providing the impetus for a variety of remedial actions.
Long live the Cold War, long live NAM!!!