As Republicans were taking over of the House of Representatives, the first excerpts of former President George W. Bush's interview with NBC's Matt Lauer were released last night. Ahead of his new book, "Decision Points," which comes out next Tuesday, Dubya revealed what he considered the "lowest point" in his two-term Presidency: Rapper Kanye West's choice words about him during the Hurricane Katrina Disaster!
The transcript of the exchange between Lauer and President Bush that will air Monday night at 8 p.m. on NBC reads as follows:
Matt Lauer: About a week after the storm hit NBC aired a telethon asking for help for the victims of Katrina. We had celebrities coming in to ask for money. And I remember it vividly because I hosted it. And at one part of the evening I introduced Kanye West. Were you watching?
President George W. Bush: Nope.
Lauer: You remember what he said?
Bush: Yes, I do. He called me a racist.
Lauer: Well, what he said, "George Bush doesn't care about black people."
Bush: That's--"he's 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 it was one of the most disgusting moments in my Presidency.
So much for 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me! In his book, Bush wrote, "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."
In the interview with Lauer, Bush said, "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.
Lauer: "You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your Presidency?"
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."
Lauer: "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 -- "
Bush [interrupting]: "Don't care."
Lauer: "Well, here's the reason. You're not saying that the worst moment in you're Presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You're saying it was when someone insulted you because of that."
Bush: "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."
Looking back, five years ago Kanye West became an instant hero among those who were enraged by the Bush Administration's lackadaisical response to the flooding in New Orleans and the human suffering that followed.
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Prominent African-American scholar Michael Eric Dyson interpreted the rapper's critical words in his 2006 book Come Hell or High Water on the Katrina disaster, writing, "West was suggesting that the government had callously broken its compact with poor black citizens, and that it had forgotten them because it had not taken their pain to heart. West's claim...was a claim not about Bush's personal life, but rather his professional life."
As we now know, Bush took it-and still takes it-very personal. As for Kanye West, this latest revelation brings about a new, fuller appreciation. When you take his words on Bush, add them up with his infamous Taylor Swift VMA acceptance speech interruption (it had to be done), his outspokenness against homophobia, and the fact that he is the biggest active musician on board with the pro-immigrant Soundstrike campaign against Arizona, any megalomania the rapper indulges in is easily forgiven!
Yes, President Bush is droppin' a new book, but West, too, will soon be back with his forthcoming album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. It's pretty safe to say when it drops, it probably won't be on any of Dubya's iPod playlists!