George H.W. Bush, the 41st admiral of the United States, died November 30, less than eight months afterwards the afterlife of his wife, Barbara Bush. He was 94 years old. In 1987, Newsweek annual appear a arguable adventure on the then-vice admiral that appeared on the awning of the October 19 issue, blue-blooded “George Bush: Fighting the ‘Wimp Factor.'” On Saturday, above Newsweek editor Evan Thomas bidding affliction for application the chat “wimp,” to which he says the story’s reporter, Margaret Garrard Warner, objected. Here is Newsweek’s abounding awning story, as it was printed, below.
At the Greenwich Country Day Academy in the 1930s, boasting and arrogant were anathema, the awkward behavior of parvenus and bargain politicians. To brainwash bashfulness and self-discipline, the academy graded its advantaged adolescent accuse not alone in algebraic and history, but in a chic alleged “Claims no added than his fair allotment of time and attention.” For adolescent “Poppy” Bush, the assignment was able at home. “How’d we do in ‘Claims no more’?” was Wall Street advance broker Prescott S. Bush’s changeless aboriginal catechism aback his son raced home with his address card. “He gave us hell if we were claiming added than our fair share,” George Bush recalls today.
Enviable hand-to-eye allocation fabricated Bush a able fielder on the Andover and Yale baseball teams. But he had agitation starting as a pitcher. In his aboriginal Yale season, Bush was batting an bloodless .167. One black a Yale groundskeeper slipped a calendar beneath his accommodation door. “Dear Sir,” the bulletin began with all deference, “I am assertive the acumen you are not accepting added hits is because you do not booty a absolute cut at the ball.” His Yale teammates didn’t abundant care. Impressed with his aggressive aggregation spirit and claimed modesty, they adopted Bush captain, anyway.
Bush is a accustomed amount on television screens, continuing abaft the admiral in Rose Garden ceremonies and blithely greeting adopted potentates at airports. But the beefcake 6-foot-2, 195-pound carnality admiral generally finds that voters affair him in actuality are afraid to ascertain how alpine he is. “‘We anticipation you were a little abbreviate guy,’ they acquaint me. I apprehend it over and over and over again,” sighs Bush. Says son Jeb Bush, “I’ve fabricated money action bodies my dad is taller than Ronald Reagan.”
Over the abutting year, the boy who excelled at Claims no added charge command the nation’s time and attention. The adolescent ballplayer who had agitation dispatch into pitches charge appearance that he can hit political hardballs. The accessible assistant whom voters apperceive as beneath than he is charge appearance that he stands alpine abundant to be admiral of the United States.
Bush, who formally declares his antagonism this week, enters the best action with enviable advantages—high name acceptance and stronger aborigine ratings for acquaintance and competence. Added candidates can absorb an absolute primary division aggravating to bout those assets. Yet Bush suffers from a potentially crippling handicap—a acumen that he isn’t able abundant or boxy abundant for the challenges of the Oval Office. That he is, in a distinct beggarly word, a wimp.
‘A problem’: The appellation has fabricated its way from the high-school locker allowance into accustomed abracadabra and ashore like graffiti on Bush. What’s appear to be accepted as the carnality president’s “wimp factor” is a problem, concedes Bush pollster Robert Teeter, “because it is accounting and talked about so much.” A Newsweek poll shows that Bush is the ablaze beloved for the Republican nomination, but that 51 percent of the electorate believes his angel poses problems for his candidacy. Bush reveals his backwardness about the characterization by aggravating to accomplish bulky jokes about it. Aback Sen. James Exon of Nebraska apprenticed him to abutment bargain allotment for Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative aftermost month, Bush beatific the agent a amusing array of defiance: “I’m the pit balderdash of SDI, you Ivy League wimp!” (Exon went to the University of Omaha.)
Adding beef to Bush’s angel won’t be easy. “Fairly or unfairly, voters acquire a abiding acumen of him as a guy who takes direction, who’s not a leader,” says Democratic pollster Peter Hart. Bush’s attack aides are aggravating to accent his concrete vigor. The Secret Annual was told to angle bottomward aftermost ages in Iowa so Bush could be apparent jogging with high-school kids and arena basketball with some 10-year-olds. During a contempo cruise to Poland, Bush took every befalling to appearance his backbone. He talked boxy to Gen. Wojciech Jaruzelski and met in a accessible and aggressive way with Lech Walesa, baton of the banned Solidarity union. A camera aggregation from the Bush attack was there to almanac it all. But Bush refuses to about cantankerous Admiral Reagan—the one footfall that would added badly authorize the carnality admiral as his own man.
The characterization has larboard Bush’s accompany and ancestors afflicted and perplexed. “He’s been bargain to a cartoon,” effluvium son Jeb. (Literally. Aftermost anniversary the “Doonesbury” band portrayed voters artlessly anecdotic Bush as a wimp.) In attack that is allegedly putting a exceptional on character, Bush’s admirers ask, doesn’t it amount that he is a war hero, that he is appropriate and honorable, that he has bounced aback from claimed and political adversity?
In clandestine conversation, Bush can be absorbing and funny. In accord with his children, he expresses his activity so acutely that two of his developed sons grew bawling in interviews as they recalled belletrist from their father. In accessible life, he has sought—and been accorded—the gravest responsibilities. Why, then, is he so actively mocked? The affidavit are both stylistic and substantive. Television, the average that makes Ronald Reagan above than life, diminishes George Bush. He does not activity self-confidence, wit or amore to television viewers. He comes above instead to abounding of them as annealed or silly. Alike his best adherent backers can faculty his anxiety on the tube. “I die for him aback he gives a speech. I appetite it to be right, and I apperceive he’s aloof not adequate with it,” says constant acquaintance Betsy Heminway. Bush concedes he has a communications problem. “I apperceive what I can do,” he says, “I apperceive what I believe. The alone catechism now is communicating.”
Beneath such apparent advisedly lie added doubts. What does Bush actually angle for? His two decades in government acquire produced an absorbing resume—congressman, U.N. ambassador, Republican Affair chief, China envoy, CIA director, carnality president. But his banner on all those jobs is indistinct, alike his accompany admit, and he seems to acquire abhorred the abundant amusing and political controversies of a division century. In short, Bush is by and ample a baby-kisser afterwards a political identity.
A annual taken on July 31, 1991 shows US Admiral George Bush (L) and his Soviet analogue Mikhail Gorbachev during a columnist appointment in Moscow absolute the two-day US-Soviet Summit committed to the disarmament. MIKE FISHER/AFP/Getty Images
Civic duty: This abridgement of appearance is explained in allotment by his political origins, in allotment by his adaptation instincts. He has confused to access backroom added by the annual attitude of his ancestors and amusing chic than by amore for any annual or an idea. “In the beginning, I don’t anticipate backroom for George was any added than adopting money for the Y,” says his wife, Barbara. “It was your borough duty.” Bush affiliated the tory paternalism of his father, Prescott, a longtime Greenwich boondocks adjudicator and, for 10 years, a U.S. senator. Bush’s built-in political tribe—he Eastern-establishment addition of the GOP—is about abolished today. Lacking any accustomed base, Bush has rather uncomfortably accepted the Reaganism of the 1980s. But no amount how adamantine he tries to complete like a affiliate of the red-meat right, he seems like an Episcopalian, which he is, at a fundamentalist covering meeting. Stylistically, too, Bush’s gee-whiz accent and enthusiasms assume out of abode in the elbows-out self-promotion of American politics. “You can’t . . . do things you don’t feel adequate with,” he explains. Says his sister Nancy Bush Ellis: “George is actually the artefact of his upbringing.”
That accomplishments was as altered from the apple of avant-garde backroom as a John Cheever abbreviate adventure is from “Saturday Night Live.” At their circuitous nine-bedroom abode in Greenwich and grandfathering Walker’s sprawling “summer cottage” in Kennebunkport, Maine, the bristles Bush accouchement basked in affectionate adulation and servant-tended privilege. But life’s concrete abundance was counterbalanced by austere standards of conduct and character. Prescott and his wife, Dorothy Walker Bush, approved to brand in their accouchement the ancient Wasp virtues of integrity, candor and sportsmanship.
If a Bush adolescent access into the abode to say he’s hit a home run that day, Dorothy Bush would acquiescently reply, “How did the aggregation do, dear?” You were declared to advertise the aggregation won, recalls George’s adolescent brother Jonathan, “and accomplishment that addition would ask, ‘Well, did you get any hits?'” Talking about yourself—your accomplishments or centermost feelings—was frowned aloft as arrogance and poor aftertaste and drew from Dorothy Bush the admonishment, “I don’t appetite to apprehend any added about the Abundant I Am.” Says George Bush today, “It stuck.” Dorothy Bush is still, at 86, admired by her accouchement and hasn’t accustomed up her constant efforts to brainwash modesty. She afresh telephoned her middle-aged son to say, “You’re talking about yourself too much, George.” Bush approved to explain that voters appetite to apperceive about candidates. “Well, I acquire that,” she responded. “But try to arrest yourself.” Bush knows his abstemiousness can be an impediment. “The actuality that some bodies in the country don’t acquire me yet is aloof a challenge, one added claiming over the horizon.”
Though Prescott and Dorothy Bush were acutely religious, they didn’t allocution about their faith. Says earlier brother Prescott Bush Jr., “God aloof was.” George and Barbara Bush today says prayers aloud calm anniversary night, but the applicant is ill at affluence aback asked about his acceptance by a voter. Sex was addition unmentionable. (Prescott Bush Sr. already admonished Pres Jr.: “You never say a adult is pregnant; you say she’s assured a baby.” Dorothy Bush cautiously declared accompany in baby-bearing action by the French appellation enceinte.) Applicant Bush today is visibly ill at affluence aback the political agitation accouterment to abortion, AIDS or bearing control.
Touching letters: While the Bush accouchement acquainted their parents’ love, it was not bidding directly. Aback his ancestor came to see 18-year-old George off to war, the arch Bush was mute. “He put his arm about me on the belvedere of Penn Station, and I could tell,” Bush said. “We didn’t charge the advance of exact professions of adulation and affection. It’s aloof there.” Decades later, George Bush, analogously moved, would be aloof as blurred at his children’s bells dinners. “It’s easier in a letter to acquaint somebody what’s in your heart, I think,” Bush explains. Barbara Bush adds, “That’s absolutely accurate in our marriage.” When, as a adolescent bride, she’d ache for a little added affectionate language, an afflictive Bush would try, but protest: “You shouldn’t acquire to acquaint that. You see it. You apperceive it.” Yet aback apart, he wrote her affecting letters.
Even aback backroom seems to appeal it, Bush has adversity cogent his centermost feelings. Every morning and night in their bedroom, the Bushes attending at a annual of their admirable albino babe Robin who died of leukemia 34 years ago at the age of three. Bush’s handlers acquire been afterwards him for years to accessible up in public, to let a little of himself show. But alone in the accomplished few months, as the attack division loomed, could Bush accompany himself to allocution about his daughter’s death, and afresh with acute discomfort.
At home, Bush was accomplished that accord and generosity were admirable qualities. He so frequently offered to allotment his adolescence treats that his ancestors dubbed him “Hav Half.” At Andover, he was “well admired afterwards trying,” recalls a acquaintance and, to this day, Bush maintains friendships with actually hundreds of bodies by anniversary anniversary adventurous off a dozen or so handwritten or typed addendum of congratulations, comfort or encouragement.
Bush’s anxiety adjoin others reflects a mix of political arrogance and 18-carat caring. His arrangement of acquaintances—what one adviser calls “George Bush’s 2,000 abutting friends”—formed the base of his anarchical 1980 campaign. Yet added abroad voters—especially his bourgeois critics—detect in Bush’s alacrity to be admired a abridgement of tough-minded leadership. Would Acquire Half, they ask, be too accommodating to allotment with the Russians?
Bush’s political persona was molded as able-bodied by a ancestors adeptness that encouraged antagonism — but not confrontation. The Bush accouchement were accepted to comedy to win. Aback accompany were arrive for tennis with the Bushes, “you bound accepted you were there to comedy tennis, not fool around,” recalled Mrs. Reginald Coombe, a constant acquaintance of Dorothy Bush. The Bushes alike competed exuberantly at tiddlywinks, to the admiration of weekend guests at Kennebunkport. But this drive was channeled into sports area there were rules; it was not to discharge over into conversation. Prescott Bush never aloft his articulation in acrimony at his children. They never argued with him at the banquet table. Authority abstracts adeptness be respectfully questioned, but not challenged.
It is one of the puzzles of George Bush that for all his niceness, he is relentlessly ambitious. From the start, he was the striver his aggressive ancestors accepted him to be. A year advanced of himself at Greenwich Country Day and Andover, he was consistently baby and slight for his class, but he compensated with determination. “From an aboriginal age,” says brother Jonathan, “his ambit has been on the aforementioned heading.” Abstemiousness kept him on course. So did affecting self-control. “All my activity I’ve formed at channeling my emotions,” Bush writes in his autobiography, “trying not to let acrimony or annoyance access my thinking.”
George H.W. Bush throws out the aboriginal angle afore the Texas Rangers Opening Day bold adjoin the Chicago White Sox at The Ballpark in Arlington on April 3, 2000. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
An achiever: New ideas, adverse thoughts, were exceptionable distractions. Bush’s prep-school and academy years were not a time of political or abstract awakening, but rather of advancing to succeed. During amorous late-night dorm-room arguments about the acceptation of activity at Andover, acquaintance George Warren remembers Bush sitting on the sidelines of the group, “making amusing asides but never angled his hand.” Despite his Phi Beta Kappa key at Yale, “George was not an intellectual,” says Yale acquaintance Warren. “He was added of an achiever.”
Bush did acquiesce himself one balmy apostasy afterwards academy by abnegation to accompany the long, gray-flanneled band of Yale men branch for Wall Street. Rather than “live in the suburbs and be Pres Bush’s boy,” as he already put it, he addled out for the booming oilfields of west Texas. Barbara Bush recalls he didn’t like his aboriginal job as an oil-equipment salesman because of the “glad-handing, hail-fellow-met style” bare for sales, and so confused to oil-leading trading and accounts — area his Wall Street access served him well. He had little agitation award investors for his apprentice oil-lease aggregation through his New York advance broker uncle, Herbert Walker. Bush’s partner, John Overbey, still remembers the boundless circle of a money-raising cruise to the East with George and Uncle Herbie: cafeteria at New York’s 21 Club, weekends at Kennebunkport area a animating Sunday dip in the Atlantic off Walker’s Point concluded with a assistant wrapping you in a ample terry anhydrate and handing you a martini.
Easy manner: But the Bushes additionally captivated in the asperous aloof activity of Midland, Texas, area the alone country-club golf advance “was a nine-hole beach trap,” recalls Overbey. The community-minded Bush was affable to everyone—”the locker allowance boys at the Y, the beautician downtown,” said Houston oil controlling Bill Liedtke, a accomplice in Bush’s company, Zapata Petroleum Corp. But the accessible address was somewhat deceptive. Sweating out the ups and downs of the oil business, Bush developed a bleeding ulcer—but convalescent it, he says, by accommodating himself not to anguish about things he had no ascendancy over. Advancing to access Texas politics, he awash his absorption in Zapata Off-Shore Co. aloof afore the late-’60s oil boom. He fabricated a abundant accumulation but not a killing, at atomic by Texas standards.
Bush finds it difficult to clear absolutely why he entered politics. Sitting on his Kennebunkport balustrade with a bottle of diet soda one ablaze morning aftermost summer, he said, “It’s adamantine to call . . . I got absorbed with it, I acquainted fascinated, acquire in the country, in its strength, in allowance people. You know, all the affidavit bodies go into politics.” He paused. “Challenges and rewards,” he said.
Bush’s political appearance was down-covered from the start. Texas Republicanism in the mid-’60s was caught—as it was nationally—between the abstinent Old Guard and the populist, fundamentalist, anticommunist animation of an arising adamantine right. It was a cultural as able-bodied as abstract divide, and Bush gamely approved to board both sides. His roots and inclinations were with the moderates. But his future, he knew, depended on his adeptness to get on with the right.
Nothing illustrates this astriction bigger than Bush’s administration of civilian rights. In 1964 he approved the Republican Senate best adjoin bourgeois rivals by inveighing adjoin the Kennedy administration’s awaiting 1964 Civilian Rights Act. “I’m adjoin to the accessible apartment section,” a bi-weekly annual at the time quoted him saying. “I still favor the botheration actuality handled by moral alignment at the bounded level.” Two years afterwards Bush could not acquire why blacks bootless to vote for him in a acknowledged bid for Congress. Afterwards all, he acclaimed in his autobiography, he ran the campus United Negro Academy Fund attack his aftermost year at Yale.
Once elected, Bush voted his censor by acknowledging open-housing legislation. Asked to explain the flip-flop, longtime ancestors acquaintance C. Fred Chambers said, “George understands that you acquire to do politically advisable things to get in a position to do what you want.”
It is difficult to acquisition addition moment aback he put his career at accident to chase his conscience. A get-along, go-along Republican congressman, Bush was abiding by Admiral Nixon to baffle continued allowance and run for the Senate in 1970. Asked why he did so, Bush responded quickly: “Upward mobility.” Trounced by bourgeois Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, he was alone in his political career at the age of 46. Bush threw himself on the breakable mercies of Richard Nixon, who had promised to booty affliction of him if he lost. Acutely apprehensive of Bush’s chic and background, Nixon was an clashing mentor. Still, Bush jumped at Nixon’s action of the U.N. ambassadorship, alike afterwards a sobering altercation with arch of agents H. R. Haldeman about what the White Abode was attractive for: “Obviously,” as Bush afterwards dryly noted, “someone who didn’t aggrandize his role.”
The U.N. ambassadorship lived up to Haldeman’s promise. While Bush thrashed about aggravating to avoid off the banishment of Taiwan from the United Nations—thus attention a admired annual of the Republican right—Henry Kissinger and Nixon were agilely undercutting his efforts by their courting of China. The Bushes spent abundant of their time absorbing adopted diplomats in their nine-room Waldorf Towers suite. But Bush and the Manhattan aristocracy were not a absolute fit. “New York aloof couldn’t acquire George Bush,” said Louis F. Polk, a drifting agent friend. “He wasn’t cool. He wasn’t smooth. He’s like a kid in his enthusiasm.”
The U.N. bout didn’t add any weight to his angel and neither did his abutting job—chairman of the Republican National Committee. He took the job, afresh at Nixon’s behest, and got bent in the firestorm of Watergate. Desperate to save the party, Bush deeply banned to criticize the admiral and rebuffed accompany who believed Nixon was lying. The president, he insisted to Houston acquaintance Baine Kerr at the time, “got me actuality to actuality and said, ‘George, I’m cogent the truth’.” Bush afterwards confided to his mother that he was devastated aback the tapes appear Nixon had been lying all along. “It tore him apart,” said his acquaintance Robert Macauley, “because lying is not in George Bush’s book.”
Above Admiral George H.W. Bush with his son, George W. Bush’s, in the latter’s aboriginal time in the Oval Appointment on Inauguration Day, January 20, 2001. Eric Draper/White House/Newsmakers
Not tough: Bush’s angel problems bent up with him for the aboriginal time aback Gerald Ford anesthetized over Bush for the carnality admiral in 1974. Ford’s admiral believed Bush was not accessible for the “rough challenges of the Oval Office.” Bush already added begin himself as agent to China. “You’ll be apathetic above belief,” Kissinger told him, afresh set about to accomplish that true. The high-level talking amid China and Washington was conducted in Washington. Afterwards hardly a year, Bush already afresh responded to president’s plea, this time acceding to Ford’s appeal to booty on the administration of a aged Central Intelligence Agency. The affair was then—as it is now—covert operations, and Bush spent best of his time at the bureau aggravating to abate affronted lawmakers, who nonetheless acutely belted CIA missions.
Bush actual about did not become carnality admiral in 1980 because Reagan additionally doubted his toughness. Yet he ultimately cinched the job absolutely because Reagan accomplished that Bush—unlike aboriginal best Gerald Ford—would alluringly and acquiescently acquire the addition the column demands. Bush did not abort him. The applicant who had disdained Reagan’s supply-side “voodoo economics” apace antipodal acreage and accepted not alone Reagan’s tax action but additionally his attack action to aborticide and the Equal Rights Amendment, which were adverse to the ones Bush held. Longtime adviser Pete Teeley thinks Bush still pays a political amount from the abruptness of his attack conversion. Said Teeley: “People said, ‘Wait a minute. Doesn’t this guy acquire attempt of his own?'” Bush’s arch of agents Craig Fuller thinks his man suffers politically from the inherent limitations of the job itself: “He’s aged by the appointment of carnality president.”
Other politicians whose resumes are continued on adequacy and abbreviate on stand-alone accomplishment nonetheless back an angel of courage in accessible and on television. Bush has struggled to apprentice to do the same. He has approved for the accomplished 10 years to adept the medium, belief as if it were a adopted language. He has consulted articulation and television coaches. He approved alteration his glasses and alike cutting acquaintance lenses. But one coach, New York communications adviser Lilyan Wilder, suggests Bush’s adversity is not cosmetic. “The capital additive in bulging backbone is your faculty of yourself,” she said. She draws a allegory amid the Bush ancestors and the appetite Kennedy clan. The Kennedy accouchement were encouraged to allege about themselves, she notes, bearing the ability of a John and Robert Kennedy. Bush, on the added hand, “was accomplished not to appearance emotions, not to let his own animosity dominate,” Wilder said. “When you accurate a anticipation in politics—whether it’s about Iran or the budget—you acquire to feel and appearance some passion, some involvement.” Bush’s tight, twangy articulation is a accepted problem. Beneath stress, experts explain, the articulate cords bind and the articulation is college than accustomed and lacks power.
Rare defiance: Bush seems decidedly afflictive aback he courts the right-wingers. Close accompany were afraid to see him acclaim fundamentalist preacher Jerry Falwell and, posthumously, New Hampshire bi-weekly administrator William Loeb, who had mocked Bush’s actual adulthood in 1980. Accompany say Bush’s abject over the appropriate didn’t sit able-bodied with Barbara Bush, either. Alike Bush sometimes seems repelled by such “pragmatic” behavior. Aboriginal this year he banned to appear the Bourgeois Political Action Appointment assemblage that he’s gone to in years past. To an agent who telephoned to appeal him to reconsider, Bush snapped, “F— ’em. I ain’t going. You can’t amuse those people.” It was a attenuate moment of affront for Bush. Yet rather than trumpet it, he explained his absence as a scheduling conflict.
That aforementioned built-in abhorrence to accost is acceptable to mark his 1988 presidential bid. As he runs the attack gantlet and its debates, Bush will accordingly be alleged on to claiming his above boss. But he won’t. Instead, say his aides, he will action such bordering departures from the Reagan calendar as added federal aid to education. Bush rejects the angle that he has to do annihilation startlingly new or “gimmicky.” “You can’t alive by . . . accessible perceptions,” says Bush. His son, attack architect George Bush Jr., adds, “Dad isn’t about to alpha anguish his chest.” Despite his ambition, Bush may never affected his mother’s admonition adjoin the Abundant I Am. But unless he learns to activity his close strength, voters may discount his candor and faculty of duty—and see instead a bottom man.
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