A Few Words on George W. Bush Caring About Black People

You’ve probably read parts of Matt Lauer’s amazing interview with our former president by now. To recap:

“[Kanye West] 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 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.”

…and we have particularly hellacious bingo.

Where do we even begin? That Bush has the gall to call Kanye’s remarks “disgusting”, an adjective he does not apply to his budget cuts, which ended necessary work on levees, leaving New Orleans vulnerable. Or the budget cuts to FEMA that halted planning for hurracaine preparedness in New Orleans. Or his buddy-buddy rich white guy network appointment of the completely unqualified Michael Brown to head FEMA. Or his own well documented inaction while a US city was being destroyed.

Dear Bush, you were the president of the United States. We care about how you behaved in that capacity. We don’t care what you feel in your heart of hearts, or the innermost thoughts you may murmur to Laura as you drift off to sleepytime. Maybe, deep down, you were thinking “How did my caring-a lot-about-black-people self ever end up enacting policies that disproportionatly harm the very people I care about so much? I am bursting with pain and empathy for the countless suffering people I could have made markedly safer, but didn’t because it was politically expedient to sell them down the river. My god, the death and destruction in New Orleans will haunt me for the rest of my life.” Actually, no, I’m sure your head has consistently been way too far up your own ass to ever think anything like that, but even if you had, it hardly matters. What matters is what you did.

Through his immoral budget cuts, negligent nepotism, and woeful inaction, George W. Bush is directly responsible for the deaths of a whole lot of black people, and the horrible suffering of many more. His priorities were things like his bullshit wars, his cronies, and making sure he beat every other US president ever for most vacation time while in office. Black people–in general, and in New Orleans specifically, here– were not his priority. It might even be fair to say…he didn’t care about them?

Yet Bush really resents that Kanye effectively called him “a racist” because “that’s not true”. And we know it’s not true because Bush said it’s not true and, well, who knows the man better than himself? Just like all the asshole bloggers and trolls who brilliantly deflects analysis of the racism in what they type, and thus invalidate all criticism from anyone attempting to tar them with the r-word, because they’re not racist. Why? Because they said so.

After all, just like the countless PC police officers on the internet who just wanna make racism arrests by manufacturing the appearance of racism where it totally wasn’t at all, Matt Lauer is apparently manipulating the audience and twisting Bush’s words by reading them exactly as written, in context. He said Kanye’s dis was the lowest point in his presidency? Well, while “lowest” may mean that there were no lower points–ie Katrina itself, 9/11, etc etc etc–it does not mean that really, because he cared about those things also! A lot! Stop saying “but not as much”, stupid lying liberal media tricking the folks at home with heathen, basic logic! He cares because he says he cares! Political leaders should be judged based solely on what he says, no fair judging based on what they actually do! Mean!

I love how Bush sees an apt criticism of his murderous mismanagement primarily as a chance to whine about his own perceived victimization. Poor widdle W. Very presidential. Also very much like how a whole lot of people–very often (though by no means exclusively) privileged white men–deal with criticism of racist things they did or said. Turn it into a personal issue. Not an issue worth discussing because their words or actions perpetuate racist ideology and systemic racism, which affect actual people in the real world. You know, that world that’s outside of their own racist ass.

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Good Things This Week

The Power Remix dropped. I love it. I’ve listened to it countless times. I wish Kanye didn’t regress to “don’t put out? I’ll put you out!” style misogynylol at the very end, but annoyance is somewhat ameliorated by how nice it is to hear what a good rapper he has become.

Seriously. Let’s talk about this now, because I don’t think I ever wrote a blog post about my fucking anger at how many times The College Dropout made best of the aughts lists over Kanye’s later albums, or was referred to as Kanye’s breakthrough-and-best. It’s not. It’s just not. If it’s your favorite, fine, and it’s a really good album and has its specific charms, but Late Registration and definitely Graduation (and, because I’m feeling bitchy, I’m going to argue 808s and Heartbreak as well, even) are all better albums. Kanye’s songwriting keeps getting better, his production keeps getting more ambitious and he keeps pulling it off. The most striking thing to me is his rapping, it keeps improving by leaps and bounds. On TCD I liked him as an emcee, which went a long way, but his rapping was only okay. Now he has verses that are better than Jay-Z’s when they go head to head on a song. What is that? His rhymes are better and more versatile, his flow has become a distinct, serious weapon, and he keeps switching it up. It’s something. It’s pretty inspiring, really, the man keeps pushing himself as an artist in the way few who taste pop success with what could be formulaized do. He could have become College Dropout kitsch, but he keeps moving forward in accordance with the artistic waves that seem to genuinely inspire him. I wish that Gaga/West tour would happen now. Or, better yet, a West/M.I.A. tour, the Hated On tour. It would be great.

Anyway, apart from the brief sexist detour, the song is just great. Really. Five mics. I wonder if all those pics of Kanye and Swizz and Mos Def in the studio were a fakeout, as I didn’t hear anything about Jay being on the track ’til I actually heard the song. It’ll be nice if Mos is on something on the new album, though.

Seriously though, I’ve listened t the thing like ten times today. It makes me feel so much better.

-If I weren’t listening to the Power Remix so much, I’d probably listen to this more:

It’s Jean Grae on a 2001 Mr. Len album called Pity the Fool. Matador put it out; I guess something went sour there because on Jean Grae’s own excellent solo debut, Attack of the Attacking Things, she has a track called “Knock” on which she wishes “a big ‘fuck you’ to bitch Chris Lombardi at Matador”.

Here is some sort of fairly official looking video, though Jean Grae is not in it, It’s also not the full 9 minute song, which is very worth hearing in its entirety. But, if you’re interested:

My Feelings and Opinions

1. I am glad that American apparel looks like it’s going bankrupt.  I would like to think that at least a small part of their sales drop was due to people stopped buying their crap cuz it was 1-waaaay too expensive for the quality and 2-almost anyone who is not themselves a really fucking creepy person fucking hates Dov charny.  JESUS.  Can he and fucking Terry Richardson (why, why do magazines hire him to shoot everyone now?  Does he work really cheap?  His one fucking schtick has gotten So. Fucking. Old.  And it was never even good!) just go off in a deserted cabin somewhere and jerk off to 70s porn together and sexually harass each other or do whatever the hell  to pass the time until the inevitable slasher villan comes to call?  I used to sometimes get wholesale AA stuff at Friedmans, but I haven’t even done that in awhile.  The only AA stuff I ever get is if some band uses the brand for their t-shirts or something.  Except for the 2 for $5 shirts I bought the other day at Filene’s.  Hell, if savings as they crumble keep getting passed on to me, I might start wearing the stuff again!  I like 2 for $5 tank tops!  2 for $5 tank tops are my jam!

2. I am pro-Kanye’s Twitter feed.  I like seeing horses and goblets.

3. Fantastic Mr. Fox was neither fantastic nor foxy.  I appreciated the stop motion animation, the art direction, some of the cinematography, and some of the voice acting (the thing would have been unwatchable without George Clooney and Meryl Streep) but I’m tired of Wes Anderson’s cereal box daddy issues and lack of soul.  He has an eye, his movies always look great, and after the trilogy of flat-out awful movies I’d seen previously, I was extra appreciative. (The trilogy of dreck was Prime, The Women, and Feeling Minnesota, I can explain how these seemingly random atrocities made their way into my DVD player!  Maybe that should be its own post.)  Maybe Wes Anderson should get into home decorating instead of film making.

Fantastic Mr. Fox did not pass the Bechdel test.  Apparently 95% of whimsical woodland creatures are male, and the female 5% exist solely in relationship to the males.  Oh I’m sorry, the Meryl Streep fox painted.  That’s character development, right?  I’ll suck up this casual structural sexism when I’m watching Olde Tyme movies, but have little tolerance for wankers churning it out today.