Former first lady Barbara Bush was hospitalized on Tuesday for a respiratory problem. Her husband, George H.W. Bush, decided to tweet about how she's apparently feeling better, especially after some nice well-wishes from former and current presidents. That's where the trouble begins:
Barbara's son, George W. Bush. Odds: 30 to 1.
Wow, is he implying that George W. Bush didn't call his own mother? https://t.co/MGN5TqVDsU— Jonathan Chait (@jonathanchait) January 2, 2014
only joined Twitter about a month ago. We don't think it's particularly likely that H.W. subtweeted his own son in this instance, but this seems to be quite a popular interpretation:
A rare Presidential inter-family passive aggressive subtweet. Wow. I feel like we should frame it or something. https://t.co/63v9uOixUO— Andy Cobb (@AndyCobb) January 2, 2014
I really hope that HW Bush is subtweeting W right here: https://t.co/uyPHzscvVs— Tyler Seuc (@SeucT) January 2, 2014
Former President Jimmy Carter. Odds: 45 to 1.
Carter doesn't seem to have quite have the same relationship to the Bushes that former Democratic president Bill Clinton does, though it's technically possible that H.W.'s omission here is supposed to refer to Carter. That is also a somewhat popular interpretation on Twitter, especially for those leaning right of center:
George H. W. Bush just subtweeted Jimmy Carter. My life is complete— Benjamin (@benjaminman7) January 2, 2014
None of the Above: His own wife, Barbara Bush. Odds: 3 to 1.
Bush the Elder's tweet is definitely a joke at someone's expense, and we think it's most likely that the former president was poking fun at his own wife (and himself). Both presidential subtweet interpretations above assume that the emphasis should be on the first part of Bush's tweet: "Barbara thanks @BarackObama & @billclinton for their get-well wishes." But we think the emphasis goes on the latter part: "and is heeding their advice." As you might have heard, Barbara Bush is a little bit strong willed. H.W. was probably referring to the fact that Barbara isn't always keen on listening to advice from her husband, despite his excellent taste in socks. But she took the advice of Clinton and Obama, which was to get well. Ha ha. Joke (probably!) explained, you're welcome.