President George W. Bush says that when he heard Kanye West say, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” “it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.”
Bush has taped an interview with Matt Lauer that will air on a special prime-time Matt Lauer Reports on NBC Nov. 8. It’s to promote his forthcoming book, Decision Points. The subjects of the interview are wide-ranging, but the former president is very passionate on the subject of West’s criticism of the way Bush handled the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. NBC has released some quotations from the interview.
“He called me a racist,” Bush tells Lauer. “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.”
Lauer quotes from Bush’s new book: “Five years later I can barely write those words without feeling disgust.” Lauer adds, “You go on: ‘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.’
President 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.
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 your 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.”
The full interview will air on the Matt Lauer Reports special on Nov. 8 at 8 p.m., the day before the former president’s book is published.
What do you think of the remarks?