When Theodore Roosevelt ushered in the American Century as the nation's youngest president in 1901, he promptly rallied the Republican Party behind his unique brand of foreign affairs activism. In short order, the former Rough Rider and hero of the Spanish-American War put down insurrection in the Philippines, abetted a revolution in Panama that led to U.S. acquisition of the Panama Canal, and won the Nobel Peace Price for mediating the quarrel between Russia and Japan. In 1907 he dispatched the Great White Fleet on a cruise around the world. An America in the "prime of our lusty youth", Roosevelt proclaimed, would "speak softly and carry a big stick" in world affairs.
At the end of the twentieth century, with American power and influence ascendant to a degree unimaginable in Teddy Roosevelt's time, emissaries from a far different Republican Party called a Capitol Hill press conference to allege presidential malfeasance. This time it was not campaign finance irregularities, personal indiscretions or technology transfers that were denounced by Senators Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Craig Thomas (R-Wyo.) and Larry E. Craig (R-Idaho). What irked the three Republicans was, rather, the discovery that the President of the United States had been spending too much money on trips to faraway places like China, Africa and Chile.
When queried about their own official travels, Thomas and Craig exhibited a disdain for the world beyond America's borders that is increasingly echoed in Republican ranks. Both boasted through staff that they had ventured out of the country only twice in the previous two years. This despite the fact that Thomas is chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Craig is a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee with jurisdiction over foreign operations, foreign aid and defense.