tionships proved mutually beneficial,rnthe elder men finding a second youthrnthrough the energetic young Byrnes, andrnByrnes in exchange receiving the benefitsrnof their power.rnAlthough Robertson makes a claimrnthroughout the book for Byrncs’s “conservatism,”rnthis disposition seems tornhave been largely temperamental, andrnByrnes for the most part did not let it interferernwith his pragmatism or ambition.rnWhat really seems the motivating factorrnin his career was the continuing quest forrninfluence. Not that he was unprincipledrnin his pursuit of political power; there isrnno evidence of his using political officernfor financial gain, and, except for thernmost necessary concessions to the racernproblem, Byrnes did not engage in thernracial agitation common to Southernrnpolitics of the time, even when thesernwere used in attempts to unseat him.rnByrncs’s career was that of a former poorrnboy who docs not wish to be powedessrnagain, and who has the wit and skill tornmaintain his usefulness to those rulingrnthe Rome then growing on the Potomac.rnAs Robertson says of his elevation to thernSupreme Court, where he served as anrnundistinguished member, “it was simplyrnnot in Jimmy Byrnes’ nature to refuse arnpromotion, whether he wanted the newrnjob or not.” Such recalcitrance mightrnhave proved detrimental to his constantrndrive to the center of power.rnThe youthful congressman played nornsmall part in the new Rome’s growth.rnAfter some disillusionment and disappointmentrnin the 1920’s, Byrnes beganrnhis rise in the 1930’s, having allied himselfrnwith a President least likely to appealrnto a conservative Southern politician.rnFranklin Roosevelt and Jimmy Byrnesrnhad a strong but stormy friendship overrnthe next two decades, as Roosevelt twicernpromised Byrnes the vice-presidency,rnand twice broke that promise. Despiternthese bitter betrayals (in 1944, Trumanrnwas carrying in his coat pocket thernspeech that would have nominatedrnByrnes when he himself, supported byrnFDR, accepted the nomination), Byrnesrnremained a loyal supporter of the Rooseveltrncolossus (who in Sly and Able isrnpresented as distinctly deceitful), evenrnworking behind the scenes in Congressrnwhile an associate Justice to help securernpassage of the Urst and Second WarrnPowers Acts. Byrnes exacted a politicalrnprice for these extrajudicial duties; hernfinally left the Court in 1942 to head thernOffice of Economic Stabilization, and inrn1944 he became director of the newlyrncreated Office of War Mobilization,rnagencies Byrnes himself had outlined forrnRoosevelt.rnIt was in these years that Byrnes becamernknown as “the assistant President,”rnand Robertson’s description of the officernand its powers, even given the contingenciesrnof war, is a case study in democraticrntyranny. The two agencies gavernByrnes authority “relating to the controlrnof civilian purchasing power, rents,rnwages, salaries, profits, subsidies and allrnrelated matters.” Byrnes was in completerncontrol, and there was no appeal from hisrndecisions. He was the first of the variousrn”czars” whom American Presidents havernappointed to circumvent self-governmentrnby free citizens, and Byrnes workedrnvigorously and efficiently to put his practicalrntalents to use effectively to controlrnthe American economy for the remainderrnof the war.rnByrnes did display a certain conservatismrnin the form of regional loyaltyrnafter he became governor of SouthrnCarolina in 1950 and began to opposernthe further growth of the total state andrnthe concomitant social revolution in thernSouth, which the Truman administrationrnsupported. But the omnipotentrnstate that Byrnes himself had helped torncreate was already a reality, and his resistance,rnon the race issue, was futile.rnByrnes had refused Klan endorsementsrnof his candidacy in the past, and one ofrnhis first acts as governor was to promoternanti-Klan legislation. Still, he was firmlyrncommitted to segregation, believing thatrnwhite Southern moderates like himselfrncould maintain the racial balance.rnByrnes was unprepared for the unrelentingrnconviction civil rights activists hadrnfor their cause, and his political tricks atrnlast failed him.rnThis perhaps was the great fixer’srngreatest weakness. Unlike that otherrngreat Carolinian who also served thernnation in a range of positions—^John C.rnCalhoun—^Jimmy Byrnes was an unreflcctivcrnman, who seemed unable to understandrnanything besides ambition, andrnunable to define success in anything butrnpolitical terms: bills passed, favorsrngained, positions held. His greatest enemy,rnRobertson implies, was the typicalrnmodern affliction of boredom, and inrnthat too he was purely American.rnGerald Russello writes from Brooklyn,rnNew York.rnPETTICOAT POLITICSrnPhil Potter, a county supervisor in Jefferson County, Wisconsin, is launching a reelection campaign entitled “Time for Changes,” butrnthe changes in question are personal rather than political. Mr. Potter, who has renamed himself Patricia and wears dresses and highhccledrnshoes to county board meetings, will be undergoing a sex change operation next spring, according to the Beloit Daily News. Explainingrnhis decision to switch genders, Mr. Potter said that he has felt oppressed by his male identity since elementary school, when herndeliberately misbehaved in order to receive “the ‘petticoat punishment,’ in which the offending student had to wear a baby bonnet andrna frilly apron.”rn42/CHRONICLESrnrnrn