Former President George W. Bush is finally speaking out about Kanye West’s 2005 rant, where the rapper criticized the President’s handling of Hurricane Katrina.
During the nationally televised telethon during the 2005 Concert for Hurricane Relief the rapper infamously said, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” an incident Bush called “disgusting.”
The former President recounted the rant during an interview with Matt Lauer for a primetime special “Matt Lauer Reports” – airing on November 8 on NBC, where Bush promotes his upcoming book, “Decision Points.”
“He called me a racist,” Bush told 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.”
In the interview, Lauer quotes Bush’s book, saying, “‘Five years later I can barely write those words without feeling disgust.’ 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.’”
“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,” Bush continued.
“You say you told Laura at the time it was the worst moment of your Presidency?” Lauer asked.
“Yes. My record was strong, I felt, when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And it was a disgusting moment,” the former President continued.
Lauer questioned his reaction saying, “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.”
“No, and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well,” Bush continued. “There’s a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple.”
On Wednesday, Kanye responded to Bush’s remarks during an interview on radio station 97.9 The Box in Houston.
“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,” he said, referring to MTV VMA incident with Taylor Swift last fall. “For both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America felt in that situation. With him, it was a lack of compassion with 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.”
In addition to the primetime “Matt Lauer Reports” special, Bush will also appear live on the “Today” show on the morning of November 9.