Former President George W. Bush (rarely one for considered self-reflection) says he once identified the worst moment of his presidency as the time Kanye West said, "George Bush doesn’t care about black people" on television. Speaking to Matt Lauer for an interview to air during next Monday’s Today show, Bush was there to promote his new book Decision Points, which revisits the "tough moments" of his eight years of office—a tumultuous era that saw 9/11, the beginnings of two still-ongoing wars, the onset of the biggest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Hurricane Katrina, Abu Ghraib, Alberto Gonzales, and even that time Dick Cheney shot his friend in the face. Yet Bush still named Kanye West calling him out on TV as an “all-time low” in terms of the many criticisms levied at his administration, and characterizes it as “one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency.” (Do you, perhaps, take issue with that? Bush’s response: “Don’t care.”) Here’s an excerpt (via Ken Tucker)
“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.
Just to be clear, the catastrophic devastation and continued suffering of the entire city of New Orleans did also affect him. Between that and the Kanye thing, there's just a whole lot of colors in that Feel Bad Rainbow there. Interestingly, Kanye West just gave an interview to New York radio station Hot 97 that addressed the very same incident, saying that the fallout over his interruption of Taylor Swift at the MTV VMAs was “bigger, to me, than the Bush moment.” So on the scale of “tough moments,” basically it goes “I'm-a let you finish” > “George Bush doesn’t care about black people” > Katrina, 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan, etc.