Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
In an interview with NBC teevee host Matt Lauer about his new book, Decision Points, Bush says, "[West] called me a racist. . . . 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."
OK, just because policies that Bush and his administration enacted or supported worked overwhelmingly against the interests of many people of color and the poor doesn't mean Bush himself is a racist. I'll give him that. But why are we supposed to care that he's upset about a pop star who insulted him? And why does Bush care so much about what a pop star thinks? It's not like West ever interrupted one of his speeches.
At any rate, today West called into a Houston radio station to say peace up to the ex-prez. He sounded wise and mature!
"Well I definitely can understand the way he feels—to be accused of being a racist in any way," West said. "Because the same thing happened to me, you know, where I got accused of being racist. And with both situations, it was basically a lack of compassion that America saw in that situation. With him it was a lack of compassion, with him not rushing—you know, him taking the time time to rush down to New Orleans. With me, it was a lack of compassion of cutting someone off in their moment. But nonetheless I think we're all quick to pull the race card in America."
West is referring to his interruption of Taylor Swift's VMA acceptance speech. Though it seems like a stretch to compare awards-show rudeness with a letting a city drown, both actions reflect a sort of narcissistic certainty that your priorities are the only ones that matter. Which draws a line between the two men: Both seem to believe—or is it now "have believed"?—that people care about their feelings an awful lot more than might be true, necessary, or healthy. In this regard, they might have more in common than they like to admit. West felt entitled to steal Swift's spotlight. Similarly, and far more destructively, Bush felt entitled to invade Iraq despite international law and the opinions of millions of people inside and outside the U.S.
Thing is, it's just a bit less consequential if Kanye West feels like he's the center of the universe, because he's an artist—he can be a narcissistic idiot and nobody's life is on the line. If you don't like his music, you don't have to listen to it or buy it. There are no repercussions. Not so the case when you're talking about the leader of the free world. If Bush believes, as he's said he does, that God chose him to become president—a delusional and dangerous belief to be sure, but also common among the right wing—then we all have to deal with the consequences. When you're repping for God, it's easy to imagine that anyone who disagrees is against God. So Kanye West was basically saying that God is racist, right? No wonder Bush was so offended.
Apparently Bush regards Kanye West's criticisms as a bigger black eye for him than the heat he took for Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, for starting a groundless war, for ignoring warnings about the 9/11 attacks, and for all the tragedies that the actual Katrina victims faced. It's a bizarre outlook to imagine, at least for people who actually give a shit about anyone besides themselves.
At least Kanye West seems to be making an effort to rehabilitate himself and understand how some people have come to find him obnoxious. Bush, on the other hand, has a so-called rehabilitation program underway, but it's not about him changing—it's about his allies persuading other people that their opinions of him were wrong all along. He seems content to play the misunderstood victim, which is very trendy in conservative circles nowadays. And instead of being blissfully ignorant, he's bitterly ignorant. No wonder he's always clearing that damn brush.