Saturday, November 6, 2010

Bush: Kanye West Katrina Comment 'Disgusting'

(Nov. 3) -- George W. Bush says one of the "most disgusting moments" of his presidency came when Kanye West said Bush didn't care about black people in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

"He called me a racist," the former president told NBC News for the "Matt Lauer Reports" program that will air Monday night, according to excerpts released by the network.

"And I didn't appreciate it then. I don't appreciate it now," Bush, 64, told Lauer. "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. And it was one of the most disgusting moments in my presidency."

Bush was responding to West's comment during a live telethon in the wake of the devastating storm that struck Louisiana and Mississippi in 2005. "George Bush doesn't care about black people," said the 33-year-old black hip-hop artist.

Lauer read from Bush's soon-to-be-released book, "Decision Points": "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," Bush said. "I felt 'em when I heard 'em, felt 'em when I wrote 'em, and I felt 'em when I'm listening to 'em.

Lauer notes that Bush told his wife, Laura, at the time that it was the worst moment of his presidency.

"Yes," Bush said. "My record was strong, I felt, when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And it was a disgusting moment."

Susan Walsh, AP
President George W. Bush tours a devastated neighborhood in Biloxi, Miss., with Kim Bassier, left, and her sister Bronwynne Bassier on Sept. 2, 2005.Lauer says to Bush: "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."

"No, and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well," Bush responds. "There's a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple."

In another passage from the book, according to The New York Times, Bush wrote that he considered dropping Dick Cheney from his 2004 re-election bid to dispel the vice president's image as the "Darth Vader" of the White House and to "demonstrate that I was in charge."

The book is due out next week, but the Times obtained a copy on Tuesday.

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