Last Monday on Howard Stern’s radio show, singer Tony Bennett stirred up a hornet’s nest when he said then-President George W. Bush had confided to him that starting the Iraq war was a mistake. Of his conversation with the president at the 2005 Kennedy Center honors, Bennett said, “He told me personally that night, he says, ‘I think I made a mistake.'”
Of the 9/11 attacks on America, Bennett, a self-avowed pacifist, said, “But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right. … They flew the plane in, but we caused it. Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”
Not surprisingly, a Bush spokesperson told NBC News that Bush had never said such a thing, leaving America to wonder who was a party to and who is “misremembering” a personal conversation from six years ago.
The next day, on his Facebook page, Bennett apologized for his remarks, sort of:
“I am so grateful to be an American and as a World War II veteran, I was proud to fight to protect our values, which have made America the greatest country on the planet.
There is simply no excuse for terrorism and the murder of the nearly 3,000 innocent victims of the 9/11 attacks on our country.
My life experiences — ranging from the Battle of the Bulge to marching with Martin Luther King — made me a life-long humanist and pacifist, and reinforced my belief that violence begets violence and that war is the lowest form of human behavior.
I am sorry if my statements suggested anything other than an expression of my love for my country, my hope for humanity and my desire for peace throughout the world.”
While he is probably just concerned about the effect of his remarks on the sales of his new album, suspicious minds might imagine that even here in America, Bennett was pressured by someone to walk back some very unpopular political views. After all, what would happen to Bush’s legacy if he admitted “Bush’s War” was a mistake? And could/should we allow a celebrity to say publicly that America’s foreign policy caused 9/11? And haven’t we always heard that spur-of-the-moment comments are likely closer to our true beliefs than carefully composed public statements?
Even amateur conspiracy theorists could have a ball with this story.