Opinion: George W. Bush accepts Kanye West’s quasi-apology


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Remember when Kanye West, during a multi-network special for the victims of Hurricane Katrina, stood next to a stunned Mike Myers and said, ‘George Bush doesn’t care about black people’?

George W. Bush hasn’t forgotten.

‘It was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency,’ Bush told NBC’s Matt Lauter recently.


In his new book ‘Decision Points’, the former president wrote that the Grammy-winning rapper’s statement was the worst presidential low he experienced. Lower than the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, 9/11, or accusations of torture due to waterboarding?

‘I faced a lot of criticism as president,’ Bush writes in the memoir. ‘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.’

‘He called me a racist,’ an emotional Bush explained after Lauter read the passage aloud. ‘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,’ Bush said earlier this month.

Thursday morning Lauer had the opportunity to broadcast West’s reaction. In an interview taped on Tuesday the chart-topping superstar was noticeably remorseful, but had a hard time saying he was sorry.

When asked by Lauer what he would say to Bush today, a serious West blamed the passion of the moment. ‘I would tell George Bush: In my moment of frustration, I didn’t have the grounds to call him a racist,’ the rapper explained. ‘I believe that in a situation of high emotion like that, we as human beings don’t always choose the right words.’ West, who was also called a racist when he infamously jumped on stage after Taylor Swift won an award for Best Female Video at the MTV Video award show and said Beyonce deserved to win, said he can now relate to the president.

‘I definitely can understand the way he feels, to be accused of being a racist in any way, because the same thing happened to me, where I got accused of being a racist.’ West told Lauer, explaining, in a way, that judging people is part of the American way. ‘For both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America felt in that situation. With him, it was a lack of compassion of him not rushing, him not taking the time to rush down to New Orleans. For me, it was a lack of compassion of cutting someone off in their moment. But nonetheless, I think we’re all quick to pull a race card in America. And now I’m more open, and the poetic justice that I feel, to have went through the same thing that he went [through] -- and now I really more connect with him on just a humanitarian level.’

‘I appreciate that,’ Bush said on the ‘Today’ show after seeing video of West’s quasi-apology and explanations. But Bush added, ‘it wasn’t just Kanye West who was talking like that during Katrina. I cited him as an example.’

So everything’s great, right? Bush got to call West out for calling him out. West, a master with words, admitted that he wasn’t so masterful. Bush, not-so-masterful with words, appeared somewhat vindicated. And Lauer got both of the principals to give him some compelling insights.

Well now Kanye’s upset at Lauer, Caps Lock be-damned. ‘HE TRIED TO FORCE MY ANSWERS,’ West complained on Twitter on Tuesday after the taped interview. ‘IT WAS VERY BRUTAL AND I CAME THERE WITH ONLY POSITIVE INTENT.’

‘I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused,’ West continued via Twitter. ‘He played clips of Bush and asked me to look at his face while I was trying to talk to him. I wish Michael Jackson had twitter!!!!!!,’ he tweeted later.

West, whose forthcoming album ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ is released later this month, eventually deleted the tweets and Lauer explained to his viewers that he didn’t do anything different during West’s interview than what he does with other guests.

-- Tony Pierce