The Liberal As Conservative
ROOSEVELT'S death opened up a period of uncertainty in Johnson's life that lasted for three years. The day after the President died, Dorothy Nichols, one of Lyndon's secretaries, asked: "'He's gone; who do we have now?' And Johnson said, 'Honey, we've got Truman.' I don't remember what I said, but he said, 'There is going to be the damnedest scramble for power in this man's town in the next two weeks that anybody ever saw in their lives.'" Three months later, he was still uncertain about where things were heading, either generally or in his own career. "What line his [Truman's] subordinates follow has yet to be developed," Johnson wrote Jim Rowe. ". . . Most of our old friends are bewildered and I think that is true, generally speaking, of the people who have acquired responsibility and power so quickly. . . . My own course in political affairs is yet to be charted. We are giving serious thought to going back to the Hill Country in Texas and making our contribution to a better world from that spot."1
Say what he might, Lyndon was glued to Washington. He remained as ambitious as ever for a powerful voice in public affairs, particularly on the nation's future course abroad. On April 13, he counseled Sam Rayburn to go on one of the radio networks to steady "the nerves of a lot of excited people" and "hit hard" at how the Congress is prepared to help the new President, especially with postwar international relations. Lyndon himself issued a statement to Texas newspapers describing Roosevelt's passing as "a shock from which we will not soon recover" and his successor as a sound, steady, and solid man who would carry on in the Roosevelt tradition.
Jim Rowe was not so sure: "I am afraid Truman will get the tempo-