CHAPTER THIRTY
The One They Left Behind
1916-18

And so Roosevelt returned to the party of his youth. The homecoming was less than joyous, on both sides. Hughes and the regulars were happy enough to have him inside the stockade shooting out, rather than outside shooting in, but many worried that if Hughes lost to Wilson this year, they'd have to contend with Roosevelt all over again in the future. For Roosevelt's part, his opinion of the regulars had improved only by comparison to the alternative. "The Republicans are a sordid crowd!" he expostulated to Corinne. "They are a trifle better than the corrupt and lunatic wild asses of the desert who seem most influential in Democratic counsels, under the lead of that astute, unprincipled and physically cowardly demagogue Wilson; but they are a sorry lot."

Neither group approached Roosevelt himself in rectitude or vision. "For six years I have been I believe emphatically right, emphatically the servant of the best interests of the American people." Lamentably, however, his work went unappreciated. "The American people have steadily grown to think less and less of me, and more definitely determined not to use me in any public position." It was enough to make one despair of democracy. "I despise Wilson," he told Bamie; "but I despise still more our foolish, foolish people who, partly from ignorance and partly from sheer timidity and partly from lack of imagination and of sensitive national feeling, support him." Referring to the Democratic gathering that had just renominated the president, Roosevelt concluded, "The St. Louis Convention was one of the most degrading spectacles we have ever seen."

-773-

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