FATHERLY ADVICE?….I’ve been getting a bunch of emails about George Bush Sr.’s speech at Tufts University along with pointers to additional stories, and it now seems even odder than it did yesterday. Here’s the basic timeline:

  • February 26: Bush Sr. gives his speech. The full text is here, and the Q&A is here. The next day it is reported rather straightforwardly by the Boston Globe as a speech that defends Bush Sr.’s record in Gulf War I and supports Bush Jr.’s approach to the upcoming war.

  • March 9: For no apparent reason, two weeks later Walter Pincus writes up the speech in the Washington Post and suggests that Bush Sr. “appears to have used a recent speech to send a subtle message to his son about the importance of maintaining multilateral relationships.”

  • March 10: Roland Watson of the London Times picks up the story, but in his hands it morphs into an “unmistakeable” message to Bush Jr. and an “ominous warning” about the danger of ignoring the UN. This is an especially odd spin since the Times is a conservative, pro-war newspaper.

  • March 11: Salon publishes a piece by Jake Tapper about the different diplomatic styles of Bush Sr. and Jr. That’s pretty standard fare, but Tapper also mentions the Tufts speech, saying that Bush Sr. “illustrated that the priorities that mattered to him are, shall we say, a tad less important to his son, including maintaining an international coalition behind a move against a sovereign country.”

What the heck is going on? For two weeks after the speech there was virtually no coverage at all, and now three stories in three days suddenly pick it up and suggest that it was actually a warning from father to son. Is this (a) just a coincidence? Or (b) did Pincus decide on his own to speculate a bit and the other two picked up on it? Or (c) did someone close to Bush Sr. call a few reporters and tell them that they missed the real story behind the speech?

UPDATE: Henry Farrell has some similar comments. Which I suppose isn’t surprising since we’ve been emailing each other about this all afternoon….

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