By Alvin Blanco
In an interview with NBC’s Matt Lauer, Bush relayed that the lowest point of his presidency was in 2005 when, during a live benefit concert for Hurricane Katrina victims on NBC, West broke from the script and told the world “George Bush does not care about Black people.”
“I resent it, it’s not true, and it was one of the most disgusting moments of my presidency,” Bush told Lauer.
Bush’s tenure as Commander in Chief was controversial for a number of reasons—including the war in Iraq and the economic crisis—but most intriguing was the former President’s commentary admitting that while he was the leader of the free world, was worried about what West, a humble rapper/producer from Chicago, had to say.
Here’s what a selection of esteemed hip-hop journalists and bloggers had to say about the 43rd president’s admission, beginning with his “of course I’m not a racist” pleas.
“Kanye is in the news again?” asked Andreas Hale, Editor-in-Chief of TheWellVersed.com. “In all seriousness, Bush mentioning Kanye today does nothing but help him promote My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and make Bush look like a crybaby. Kanye is now two for two when it comes to Presidents speaking his name, not too bad in my book. As for Bush being disgusted with Kanye calling him a racist? I think G.W. is hard of hearing. Kanye said he doesn’t care about Black people. But if the shoe fits … ”
A president realizing an artist’s existence—especially considering the fact that Kanye West’s outburst came during a live television program with an audience of millions—is not surprising. It’s just that, well, surely more important issues came across his Oval Office desk.
“When I think of disgusting moments during the George Dubya Bush presidency I think of wild WMD goose chases, a war in Iraq, the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, the economic downturn, unemployment rising and poor people getting poorer and the wealthy getting wealthier, not Kanye West’s comment,” says Timmhotep Aku, Editor of Aol’s TheBVX.com. “George Jr. needs to get his priorities straight and if he were really that outraged he’d gone out of his way to his way to prove Kanye wrong. But, like he responded to Matt Lauer when asked about the statement and getting heat for it, he ‘don’t care.’ ”
Disdain at Bush’s concern about one man’s remarks in lieu of the nation’s ills was a common thread.
“That quote, that completely idiotic quote just wrapped a nice little bow on top of the crappy presidency that was George W. Bush,” says Kazeem Famuyide, Online Editor of The Source. “Blowing it on 9-11 when there were multiple warnings, watching thousands of bodies float away and die in New Orleans, that big ass “Mission Accomplished” spectacle, not finding Osama bin Laden yet, wasting money and lives in Iraq (stop me at any time) wasn’t the worst—it was a rapper saying you didn’t care about black people. That was his low point?”
While Bush’s concerns seem quizzical at best, the fact that Kanye West is still on his mind can be considered a win for hip-hop.
“My initial thoughts about Dubya’s delayed-reaction to Kanye West’s 2005 comments were [to be] proud,” said Jake Paine, Editor-in-Chief of HipHopDX.com. “Hip-Hop was heard, finally. More than ever before, our artists and our voices are impacting mainstream culture to the point where a U.S. President can be affected by something we say. If only Bush-41 could have heard Chuck D, or Ronald Reagan could have heard Ice-T. What Kanye West did was meaningful to anybody who was angered by America’s leadership at that time, and it was a lot more poised than throwing a shoe.”
At the time of West’s commentary he had just released his second album, Late Registration. So while West was already one of hip-hop’s biggest stars, the weight of his words can be considered an early hint of his rise to pop culture ubiquity.
“The first thing I thought after reading Bush’s comment, was how much of an impact Kanye has gained over the years,” said Carl Chery, Executive Editor at BET.com. “It makes ‘Power’ that much more significant. Of all the things Bush has had to deal with during his time in office, from going down as one of the presidents with the lowest approval rates in history to the country’s plummeting economy, you’d think Kanye was the least of his worries. But here we are five years later and he says he resented ‘Ye’s comment then and does now.”
In the case of this Kanye West vs. George Bush non-debacle, the power of words could not be more evident.
The full interview is set to air November 8 on NBC as a part of an evening telecast billed “Matt Lauer Reports.” Bush is promoting his forthcoming book “Decision Points.”
What did you think of George Bush’s comments about Kanye West? Tweet us at @MTVRapFix or tell us in a comment below!