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George W. Bush accepts Kanye West's quasi-apology

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.

KanyeWhen 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

Comments () | Archives (28)

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I am just shocked that Mr. Bush had/has time to worry about Mr. West. I would think that 9-11 would've been the digusting low point... or seeing so many homeless persons on American streets, or that a young boy named Diamante Jones died from toothe decay during his term... not finding the WMDs.... being accused of torture...

and also, nevermind bothering to discuss WHY Mr. West called him a racist...

Kayne West has no business calling anyone a racist. That man demonstrated the most blatant act of racism I've seen when he took the microphone away from a white woman and said a black woman deserved the award who wasn't even his love interest. If that isn't racism I don't know what is

you're right: you don't know what racism is, steve.

In all fairness Steve, it may just be that he really felt Beyonce had a better video (or whatever it was he was talking about). No, I don't really believe that either, but you have to admit the possibility that it wasn't just racism.

Wacky.. Bush rates some rapper's BSing as more of a low than 9/11? Wacky.

OK, how ignorant can people really be? Kanye getting on stage saying Beyonce deserved the award was stupid, but it was his opinion of who he thought was the best. But did anyone die from it? Bush's lack of immediate action to help the victims of Katrina led to a lot of deaths and a lot of suffering. And a lot of people felt Bush was a racist, Kanye just said it. That whole crap Bush said about Kanye was just that: CRAP. Because a lot of people felt the way Kanye felt, and he knows it.

Kanye West is a nut job with a message suitable as a bottom feeder. I have no use for him or his music.

Why in the world anyone is giving him a forum for his acting-out boggles my mind. We, as a society need to let go of fawning over losers and pay more attention to those who build up and examplify what is good and positive in the world.

@NAJ.....beautifully said!!! I love it...I was wondering the same things....why was Kanye West the topic of any conversation pertaining to low points in Bush's Presidency....Bush still has his priorities as backward as his words!

Gee Steve--seems to me that when the church in Birmingham was bombed, or Dr. King was assasinated, or many black men were lynched, that was probably just a little more "blatant act of racism" than when Kanye grabbed the microphone from Ms. Swift. I don't know--is the murder of someone because of their skin color a mere social misstep, while an outburst at an awards show is the most "most blatant act of racism (you've) seen". About as silly a remark as I've seen recently, and that is not exaggeration.

You don't have to be a card-carrying member of the KKK to be racist in your actions (and you don't have to be concious of it to be racist). Seemingly ignoring the suffering of thousands of American citizens who are overwhelmingly African-American certainly appears racist. I'm not a Kanye West fan, but I can certainly understand why he reached his conclusion (because I reached it too).

In his book, Bush claims that one of the worst moments of his Administration was being called a racist by Kanye West.

Wow, for a supposed leader to consider what this one hot-tempered individual THINKS or SAYS about him to be amongst the worst part of his Administration tells volumes. Really, this is worse than the fact that his decisions (Iraq, Katrina) led to the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians is not much worse proves that this guy was far from the "Compassionate Conservative" he marketed himself as.

Paul Harris
Author, “Diary From the Dome, Reflections on Fear and Privilege During Katrina"

Kanye West should have said, Heck No, I meant every word I said. He never called George Bush a racist. He said he didn't care about black people. When it quacks like a duck... but no, the Illuminati wants their boy to call himself Toby and just what he did was selling out further to the forces of you-know-who, the dark one, the fallen, the corrupter of men's souls. Kanye will probably kill himself now. He really did the ultimate. As for Bush, who cares how he felt. The truth hurts. What about those Negroes in New Orleans ignored for 5 days at least and then locked down in fema concentration camps, still. Please. Keep your souls folks.

It annoys me that all of you can vote. Can't wait for the fascist takeover of America. I'm going to enjoy lining all of you up and letting the shotgun sing the song.

I dont know who Kanyea West is..I didn't care who he is ,,,I have not ever bought or listened to anything this person has sung or said and i NEVER WILL,,,He is the problem not the solution,,To make racial remarks about a President is low life ,including the one we now have,,What talent does this person have ? I don't know,,,He had a chance to act like a man in the interview and he acted like a street punk,,,George Bush was not my favorite President but I'm pretty sure he is not a racist,,,I can't say the same about "look at me !" West JEEEZE

I think a large contributor for Bush taking such a strong resentment to the allegation from West was the context in which West said it. He spoke it to the American public during a fund raiser... it wasn't some BS quote or something in a magazine.

It's incredibly lazy and self serving for Kanye West to dismiss people so casually like that. What he did with Taylor Swift was the same. He takes advantage of a large audience to discredit someone personally is very low.

If you can't "empathize" with Bush on this then you are too blinded by your own self serving BS...


First time ever watching this guy Matt but seriously!!!! Matt, i think this segment of your show was stupid and so is President Bush. To honestly hold onto and believe that a moment of how long ago is the worst experience in your presidency is RIDICULOUS (spell check). How about your genius brain should have said 9/11, misinformation, guns and weapons or the economy.
You are worried about a statement made on tv which we all know is true but I guess the truth hurts when it hits home.

As for MATT, it was very inappropriate to play the clip with sounds and have your crew mean exchange words with Kanye while he was speaking and on air.
Im soooo disappointed in you (Matt) and NBC and the time i wasted to listen to this stupid clip. There are far more important things to talk about than this. Kanye you are funny but it is what it is and I commend you on your ability to Speak for those who cannot or do not have the avenue to do so!

This society is sooo backwards and we all need to focus on whats more important then an ex president who wants media to highlight a silly comment that is perceived by many to be true over more important things--- NONSENSE PEOPLE

Kanye needs to give back his bloods diamonds which he wears around his neck......before he starts accusing people of being racist. This also goes out to all the rest of those 'gangster' wannabee rappers.

Bush is stupid and so is Kanye West. Where is the news here?

I don't understand all the back and forth here... Is Bush a racist? I don't know, I don't think so. Is Kanye West really sorry, sad, confused and working through some major inner battles? Probably, give him a break. Why would Bush pin point this issue as an incredibly low point in his presidency?

Because it was an extremely public attack on his character in full public light, not like someone calling any of you a racist the entire world saw that. Why did he mention that rather than 911? Come on do you really think he did not care? Think back to the worst thing that has happened directly to you this is where is coming from. America better start using some common sense and coming together rather than jumping on a side because your tearing us apart!

Bush saying Kanye's remarks represented the lowest point in his presidency is an act of terrorism. How about that one day where all those Americans died? "Hold on Matt Lauer imma let you finish but Kanye had the biggest impact on my WHOLE PRESIDENCY".

"For both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America felt in that situation." You're on your own Kayne. I did not feel a lack of compassion in either situation. Don't try to drag the rest of America into YOUR immature, uneducated, bordering on lunatic comments.

Are you kidding me people?! Wow I guess the "crazies" are on the West Coast (not in Miami LOL). You know very well that it was the state and local government that stopped the troops from coming in (remember what color THAT govenment was). The US government was there, but was stopped as the idiots in New Orleans tried to...well...tried to go nothing.

And WHY were people on the roof after 1 night with signs saying "No Water?" I have been through Hurricane Andrew and every hurricane since 1992 on the beach in South Florida (Ft. Lauderdale). You're telling me that I'm supposed to feel bad when people didn't even fill 1 GALLON of free water (or one bathtub) before the Hurricane hit? The 300 school buses that sat in New Orleans are more of a problem (again the LOCAL government) that George W Bush.

I guess once people are allowed to go through life with no accountability, you can't expect them to have any.

By the way, I AM mixed (I feel I always have to preference my race when having the conversaions or some idiot assumes I'm white) & had no power from October 21 - December 11 due to Hurricane Wilma. I realize there was not the same level of flooding, but the flooding in New Orleans wasn't from the Hurricane, but the LEVYS (again the LOCAl government),

I would hate to think if Mr. Bush was confronted with a "truthful" comment from some "up to do " person--Take action and correct it, but WAIT What about the Middle and Lower Class Mr. Bush. When you come down off your High Horse You will see what it is like just living from day to day. My father was a WWII Veteran 100% Disabled, died at age 46. Government cheated him too! Its not all about "me" "myself" &"I" We as Americans have got to stop and think of each other, come together. Make Peace Not War.
I hope you have a Nice Day Mr. Bush.

Did no one hear that he isn't sorry for what he said, just sorry for being called out for it,

I think everyone of one have too much time on your hands

Kanye: "I feel very alone very used very tortured very forced very misunderstood very hollow very very misused."

BoooHooo Kayanne! You jest mad that the whole world sees the real you on tape. But I do understand the hollow part. That's what you should feel after you misuse, abuse, slander and put down others = hater!

After watching the way Mr. West conducts himself and the way Mr. Bush conducts himself, after reading this article and the posted comments, I have decided that Kanye West is not a racist... he is however a moron, as is Matt Lauer and at least two thirds of the posters represented here.

West is frustrated by the lack of what he feels empathy towards minorities and having a conservative administration at the time of Hurricane Katrina, when many of the victims seen on TV for help were black, seemed to have upset him greatly (thinking Bush administration only cares about the wealthy and not poor black folks). I don't have anything against Bush or Kanye, but they're both easy targets of hate when Bush and West have said things that were controversial which neither improved nor were they helpful on their image. All that did was get everyone riled up and angry. Being famous doesn't necessarily give one's right to waste people's time. Power without perception is spiritually useless and therefore has no true value. Always remember, fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering...


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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