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.