The Rapper and the President
Posted November 15, 2010
I remember watching the concert for Hurricane Relief sponsored by NBC after Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast in 2005. I was just as shocked as everyone else when Kanye West went off-script from the teleprompter and stammered out these words: "George Bush doesn't care about black people." Comedian Mike Myers, who had been trying to stay on message, looked at Kanye in disbelief. It was an awkward moment that lead to some important dialogue about the government's mishandling of the Katrina relief effort and how our country addresses racial and economic disparities. Now five years later George W. Bush calls Kanye's infamous comments, "the worst moment" of his presidency, in his new book Decision Points. In an interview with Matt Lauer on Dateline NBC, Bush became emotional as he recalled West calling him, in so many words, a racist. Who would have thought that out of all of the low points that occurred during the Bush presidency such as 9-11, the Iraq War, and the financial crisis to name a few, a misstatement from a rap artist would make his top worst memories list. Kanye was also given face time with Lauer on the Today Show to own up to the Bush episode, the Taylor Swift meltdown and other verbal indiscretions. Lauer was determined to pull an apology out of West, for his racial commentary on Bush, which Kanye did provide in his own way. While he was talking about the Swift episode, the Today show producers ran the footage of Kanye storming the stage to interrupt Taylor's MTV Video Music Awards acceptance speech, because he thought Beyonce' was more deserving. Kanye became irritated by the audio from the video clip that was played while he was talking and demonstrated once more that he's never afraid to speak his mind about anything - including a production mishap. Who would have thought that an off-the-cuff outburst would indelibly link a popular rapper and a former GOP president. West has already secured his spot as one of the greatest hip hop artists of all time, but he may want to follow Ron Artest and get some some counseling to maintain his balance, and avoid repeating his public relation disasters. I never voted for Bush, but he's still on my short list of presidents I would most like to have a beverage with, behind Abraham Lincoln, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Both Kanye and W. should seriously consider meeting in person to share their experiences with the glory of fame and the pain of controversy. In the end, despite their differences, they may discover that they are actually kindred spirits.