Who was George Bush? A Connecticut Yankee or a good ole boy from Texas? A New England patrician or a regular guy from the Southwest? A Kennebunkportian or a Houstonian? An aristocrat with a touch of hauteur or a down-to-earth guy with the common touch? People weren't quite sure -- even those who voted for him in 1988 -- and at times Bush himself didn't seem to know for sure.
Bush's New England credentials were impeccable. Born George Herbert Walker Bush in Milton, Massachusetts, in 1924, he spent his childhood in Greenwich, Connecticut, where he was chauffeured to Country Day School, and then prepped at the elite Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. His father, Prescott S. Bush, an investment banker and moderate Republican who represented Connecticut in the Senate from 1953 to 1963, was an imposing figure who set high standards of behavior for his children; and his mother, Dorothy Walker, perhaps even more influential, instilled a love of sports in the children, saw to it that they attended church regularly, and cautioned them against becoming too self- important because they had been born to privilege. "They believed in an old-fashioned way of bringing up the family -- generous measures of both love and discipline," Bush recalled. "Dad taught us about duty and service; Mother taught us about dealing with life on a personal basis, relating to other people." There was a great deal of noblesse oblige in Bush's upbringing. 1