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The young senator photo from The Years of Lyndon Johnson position. Johnson’s natural gas buddies got what they wanted. The man appointed to the FPC to replace Olds believed in deregulation. One scene in this long process of destruction conveys the purest Johnsonian evil. During a recess in the subcommittee hearing over Olds’ confirmation, Johnson met his victim in the hallway, put his hand on Olds’ shoulder and said, “Lee, I hope you understand there’s nothing personal in this. We’re still friends aren’t we? It’s only politics, you know…” Within three years after reaching the Senate, Johnson was the Democratic minority leader, and two years later he was the party’s majority leaderin both instances, the youngest in history. How did he move up so rapidly? Why, he was simply a world-class sycophant. As Johnson put it, “Christ, I’ve been kissing asses all my life.” Caro agrees: “The key to his advancement had fit the pattern of his entire life: As he had done in the House of Representatives, he had identified the one man who had the power that could best help him, and had courted that man.” In the House, that one man had of course been the speaker, old Sam Rayburn of Texas. And Johnson courted him shamelessly, often kissing him on the top of his very bald head and whispering, “How are you, my beloved?” Rayburn wasn’t fooled. He would often say to a friend, “I don’t know anyone as vain or more selfish than Lyndon.” Still, he granted Johnson almost any favor. Rayburn was a lonely bachelor and avoided social gatherings because he was clumsy at small talk. Johnson virtually made Rayburn a part of his own family, having him to dinner on a regular basis. In the Senate, “the one man who had the power,” and who almost totally shaped Johnson’s future, was Senator Richard Brevard Russell Jr. of Georgia. Russell was also a bachelor and from all evidence as lonely and as unsociable as Rayburn. He always ate dinner at the same cafe, sitting alone at the counter, and then went back to his two-room apartment to spend the evening alone, reading. In his monotonous loneliness he even read Gibbon’s multi-volume Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire three times. Johnson courted Russell as he had Rayburn, having him regularly to his home for weekend meals, or accompanying him to baseball games, a sport that Russell loved and Johnson didn’t give a damn about. John Connally, knowing what was going on, asked Johnson sarcastically, “Do you know the pitcher from the catcher?” But the courtship went far beyond that, and in much more significant ways. From the day he stepped onto the Senate floor, and with no let-up thereafter, Johnson was the creature of Russellhis puppet, his lapdog, his attack dog. Russell was the most powerful man in the Senate, being the only member who sat on both the Democratic Policy Committee, which controlled the flow of legislation to the floor, and the Democratic Steering Committee, which controlled the party’s committee assignments. He was also chairman of the Armed Services Committee and was the main reason many states in the South almost sank beneath the weight of armaments produced for the Cold War. Since this was the politician Johnson imitated and served so slavishly \(and who in a real sense put Johnson on the road to ancestors,” Caro tell us, “were part of the upper reaches of the slave-owning patrician aristocracy that dominated the South’s plantation culture and embodied its social graces.”They were financially ruined by the Civil War. In his imagination, throughout his life, says Caro, Russell never stopped fighting the war, or the “Lost Cause,” as it was sometimes called”the lost dream of the Old South that was crushed at Gettysburg.” He arrived in 1933, right in the middle of the Great Depression, so of course he supported all the federal welfare continued on page 18 8/2/02 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7