are Americans such suckers for the rags-to-riches story? It occurred to me when my mother was watching CSPAN today. (Yes, yes, there is someone out there who watches CSPAN all the time, and that person is my mother.) But politicians will always try to emphasize their underprivileged childhood and their rise to personal success if they have it, and if they don't they will attempt to manipulate their life story in order to appear this way.
It's not necessary Bush I and Bush II have found it fairly hard to do so, although Bush II has at least cultivated an uncultivated image.
But certainly Bill Clinton for example, certainly capitalized on his working class childhood to gain sympathy, and Barak Obama is currently doing so. Whether they are successful due to this stratagem is debatable I suppose, but you can't deny that everyone feels the need to tap into this archetype.
Why do we like this story so much? Perhaps this story is supposed to demonstrate the person in question's inherent personal worth. All research to the contrary, perhaps Americans still buy into the idea that success=personal virtue. And what better way to demonstrate personal accomplishment than to come from nothing and end up on top of the world? This thinking strikes me as being particularly American. Of course every culture has stories of exemplary people who start out poor and become successful. However, to me, the American story places a great deal of emphasis on money, the lack of it at the beginning of the story and the abundance of it at the end is what guarantees success.