CHAPTER EIGHTEEN
The Kaiser and the Canal
1902-3

Roosevelt's rescue of the Damsel Public in the coal strike made dramatic headlines just before the 1902 elections, which returned solid Republican majorities to both houses of Congress. Taking this as ratification of his bold use of executive power, the president declared himself "well contented" with the results of the polling.

Although things had turned out right in the end, Roosevelt recognized that the constitutional bridge he had galloped over to save the fair lady was relatively flimsy and might not bear many more such crossings; for this reason he intended to leave most future forays to less exalted officials expressly armed with congressional warrants. Yet his blood was up (and his leg was healing), and he must continue to seek dragons to slay.

During the several months after the coal strike he found his dragons overseas. This was just as well (and not entirely coincidental), since presidents have always been granted greater autonomy in foreign affairs than in domestic. Roosevelt took what he was granted--and more. To an even greater degree than in domestic matters, he believed that his arm wielded the sword of righteousness in international affairs. That he swung the sword in earnest much less often than he merely brandished it didn't indicate any lack of confidence in his moral authority; it rather reflected a recognition that weapons have multiple uses.


II

The dragon that most worried Roosevelt during his whole presidency (and for a decade thereafter) was Germany. Since the late

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