Just so we're all clear, I didn't vote for Bush in 2004 -- I wasn't old enough to vote in 2000. As well, I cannot stand Kanye West. He's done two things I have ever cared about in his brief career -- record "Through the Wire" with his jaw wired shut and make that aforementioned statement on the telethon. Yet these two men will forever be linked, and that irks Bush to no end.
It takes balls for Bush to admit that what Kanye said was the worst moment in his presidency -- a presidency, let's be honest, that's had its fair share of pretty awful moments. Forgoing everything that happened with September 11 -- which, sure you could be argue was one of the lowest points in our nation's history -- the focus of this discussion rests on everything that happened throughout late August and on through September of 2005 when Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. Katrina is the reason West spoke out against Bush, and it is also the basis for Bush's "worst moment" of his presidency, even if that moment isn't as directly tied to the hurricane as we would like to believe.
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Engaging with our readers is essential to Phoenix New Times's mission. Make a financial contribution or sign up for a newsletter, and help us keep telling Phoenix's stories with no paywalls.
Support Our Journalism
According to Ken Tucker of Entertainment Weekly, Matt Lauer frequently quoted from Bush's forthcoming book in the interview, including, "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." It is easy to ascertain that West found Bush to be racist in his administration's sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina. However, some of what West says in his rant before he claims Bush doesn't care about black people can be placed on the media and other outlets and not directly on Bush himself. People of all races were doing the looting in the aftermath of Katrina, what footage the media captured of that looting and how they decided to portray it was solely up to them, not the president.
Through all this, it is remarkable to think that a musician could have such an impact on the president. Granted, what West said went out to a massive audience, but it can be argued that West's statement isn't true. Bush, when it came to Hurricane Katrina, didn't care about black people, white people or really anyone else, for that matter. His administration's response to Katrina showed just how much he didn't initially care for any resident of the Gulf Coast -- race excluded. He had advanced warning of the severity of the storm, was captured playing a guitar in San Diego a day after the hurricane's landfall while the Gulf Coast faced huge storm surges and enlisted a sluggish federal response to the dire circumstances throughout the Gulf Coast, most notably in the city of New Orleans.
None of this affected solely the African-American communities of the Gulf Coast. These decisions by Bush and his administration affected people of all races, and the outcome of Hurricane Katrina will forever go down as one of the worst events in American history. However, even though Katrina happened on his watch, Bush won't come out and admit that it was the worst moment of his presidency. Never one to take the blame -- ahem, Michael Brown -- Bush is playing the victim to West's harsh remarks, which were, for all intents and purposes, out of line. And, as I've tried to show, West's remarks weren't all that true -- Bush didn't care about people of any race during the early stages of Hurricane Katrina, not just African Americans.
However, for all the vitriol and resentment brought forth from Hurricane Katrina towards Bush, he can still sleep well at night knowing Kanye West was justifiably a total asshole towards him on live television. Two wrongs don't make a right, but Bush is plenty content with thinking that way.