Most New Englanders want to be like Bush. They want to go to Yale and wear J. Press suits. And most would find the sock thing charming, an indication that Bush has completed a conservative cycle. His has been a rite of exit to a historic postwar period. His, the graceful repackaging of the Reagan presidency, which was the main event in postwar conservative politics.
Bush, in a word, provided a peaceful opening to the West for those of us back East. And the socks, for an old-line New Englander like Bush, present a playful, graceful abjuring of power, an end-time motif, like that described in the old contraband Book of Common Prayer: “... in returning and rest we shall be saved, in quietness and in confidence shall be our strength ...” And ours here in northern New England is a time of “returning” as well. Because George H.W. Bush was probably the last real New England Yankee ever to serve as an American national leader.
What Bush did in life was to gracefully open America to the West. It is a door that has opened that will not be closed. But I don’t see the rest of us, left behind in New England, being primary participants in this awakening. The West began with Reagan. New England ended with Bush. The rising American Century opens in the West, but here in New England, we return to sleep.