As far as November’s hip hop beefs go, this one is maybe the most ridiculous … In an interview with Matt Lauer set to air next week, Bush says Kanye West’s “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” statement during the post-Katrina telethon was “one of the most disgusting moments” of his presidency. The Q&A took place in anticipation of the former president’s forthcoming book, Decision Points. He continues:
He called me a racist … And I didn’t appreciate it then. I don’t appreciate it now. It’s one thing to say, “I don’t appreciate the way he’s handled his business.” It’s another thing to say, “This man’s a racist.” I resent it, it’s not true.
And Lauer quotes Bush from his book:
Five years later I can barely write those words without feeling disgust … I faced a lot of criticism as president. I didn’t like hearing people claim that I lied about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction or cut taxes to benefit the rich. But the suggestion that I was racist because of the response to Katrina represented an all-time low.
To which Bush responds: “Yeah. I still feel that way as you read those words. I felt ‘em when I heard ‘em, felt ‘em when I wrote ‘em, and I felt ‘em when I’m listening to ‘em.”
‘Em, he’s apparently fixated on it, to the disregard of other maybe more “disgusting” moments of his presidency. See, for instance, this exchange between GW and Lauer:
MATT LAUER: You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your presidency?
GEORGE W. BUSH: Yes. My record was strong, I felt, when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And it was a disgusting moment.
ML: I wonder if some people are going to read that, now that you’ve written it, and they might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this–
GWB:: (interrupting) Don’t care.
ML: Well, here’s the reason. You’re not saying that the worst moment in your presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You’re saying it was when someone insulted you because of that.
GWB: No, and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well. There’s a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple.
Curious what Bush thinks about West’s Taylor Swift interruption. For his part, West told Hot 97 he thinks the Swift thing’s bigger than the Bush moment. (No, not that bush moment.) You can read more about the conversation with Lauer at EW. The full interview will air on a prime-time Matt Lauer Reports special on 11/8 at 8PM. Bush’s book is out the next day.
Update: It turns out Kanye sympathizes with GW. According to XXL, after catching “a quick glimpse” of the interview with Lauer, West phoned 97.9 in Houston, TX today and said the following:
Well I can definitely understand the way he feels to be accused of being a racist in any way because the same thing happened to me, you know, where I got accused of being racist, and with both situations it was basically a lack of compassion that America saw … With him it was a lack of compassion not rushing, you know, taking his time to rush down to New Orleans. With me, it was a lack of compassion in cutting someone off in their moment, but none the less I feel we’re all quick to pull the race card (in America). And now I’m more open, and the poetic justice that I feel to go through the same thing that he went (through), and now I really more connect with him on a humanitarian level … the next morning when he felt that, I felt the same thing…
Because he’s fixated on the Swift thing.