Former President George W. Bush has just released his memoir Decision Points. One argument that Bush promotes in his book is that the famous Kanye West remark was the low point of the Bush presidency. In recent interviews, most recently on Oprah, he took it a step further and said that the rap artist called him a “racist”.
Of course, the former “decider” is referring to West’s commentary on the government’s botched up recovery and rescue efforts in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Kanye did not call Bush a racist per se. Rather, what he said was that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” so there’s a difference. And while someone could conceivably make the argument that Bush is a racist based on his administration’s long track record of racially charged moments, we haven’t “looked the man in the eye” to “get a sense of his soul” — the way Bush did with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
WATCH FORMER PRESIDENT BUSH ON ‘TODAY’:
It seems awfully curious that out of an entire 8-year presidency — filled with so many missteps, blunders, disappointments and outright catastrophes just there for you to scrutinize — that President Bush would focus on the Kanye West statement as the make-or-break moment of his presidency. The Bush memoir narrative misses the point entirely. Indeed, there were far many more low points.
Hurricane Katrina itself was a low-point of the Bush administration’s legacy. With thousands dead or displaced and unable to return home, Katrina is a lasting reminder of what can happen when incompetence and hatred of government meet.
Speaking of disasters, the 9/11 terrorist attacks occurred on Bush’s watch, the worst to take place on U.S. soil in the nation’s history. Thousands of lives were lost under his watch.
The Bush policy of financial deregulation and careless spending wrecked the economy. President Bill Clinton left office with a huge $127 billion budget surplus, yet Bush turned it into a massive $1.4 trillion deficit by 2009. This was no easy feat, yet Bush accomplished this through a steady diet of costly tax cuts that favored the rich and did nothing to boost the economy; a huge TARP bailout of the banking sector, and pricey yet pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that have claimed thousands of lives. The Iraq war caused so much pain for Iraqis, and created so many orphans and widows that an Iraqi journalist decided to throw his shoes at Bush during a Baghdad press conference — an ultimate insult in Arab culture.
And the United States was treated like a motherless child by the international community as a result of Bush policies. After all, this was a White House that believed it did not need help from anyone. After 9/11 the world was eager to help America. But Bush’s brazen cowboy approach to the world made the U.S. a pariah nation, and an even larger target for terrorists through its torturing of terror suspects and prisoners at places such as Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib.
With all of this said, the question remains: Why pick on Kanye West?
Well, authors want people to buy their books. Celebrity sells, and Kanye is an attention-grabbing personality who adds excitement to the mix. He is flashy and popular, unlike George W. Bush, the president whose departure was celebrated by millions.
Further, as an African-American, Kanye is an easy target. Many careers have been built on beating up folks of a darker hue. With the war on drugs, lawmakers and prosecutors waged a war on black people. They conjured up an image of black criminality and were rewarded at the polls. Reagan spoke of the “welfare queen” while campaigning on Chicago’s South side in order to win election and justify the dismantling of the welfare state. George Bush’s daddy used the specter of black Willie Horton raping white women, while Jesse Helms scared white voters with the image of the black affirmative action hire stealing all of the good jobs from qualified whites. And Clinton, the first black president before the real first black president, scored points at election time by twisting a statement made by activist and recording artist Sister Souljah, and claiming she was racist against whites.
The Bush approach is particularly sinister because it is consistent with the fashionable conservative Republican narrative of reverse racism, of white people as the victims of discrimination by African-Americans. The campaigns waged by the GOP, Fox News and their surrogates against ACORN, Shirley Sherrod, Van Jones, the New Black Panthers, voter fraud and voter intimidation, and other imaginary issues all play into this false narrative. Employing the semi-fictional, Kanye-called-me-a-racist narrative, Bush can assume the mantle of victimhood status, and change the subject for the purpose of salvaging his legacy and selling books. This appeals to the people who would buy a book from Bush in the first place.
President Bush, if you want to sell books, go on with your bad self. But don’t use Kanye as your whipping boy.