Tony Bennett is under fire for telling Howard Stern that President George W. Bush admitted to him that the Iraq War was a mistake. The 85-year-old singer visited Stern’s satellite radio show on Monday to promote his new album of duets, and he shared his encounter with the then-president from the 2005 Kennedy Center honors. “He told me personally that night, he says, ‘I think I made a mistake,’” Bennett said, referring to the Iraq War.
A spokesperson for Bush told NBC News that “This account is flatly wrong … President Bush never said that to Tony Bennett or anyone else.” Watch the clip below.
Bennett, who fought in Germany during World War II and considers himself a pacifist, also holds America’s foreign policy responsible for the attacks on 9/11. “But who are the terrorists? Are we the terrorists or are they the terrorists? Two wrongs don’t make a right,” Bennett said, when asked how the U.S. should fight terrorism. “They flew the plane in, but we caused it. Because we were bombing them and they told us to stop.”
Stern conceded that Bennett made some good points, but Bennett has waded into murky waters with his remarks. He’s not the first person — celebrity or academic — to pose the theory that 9/11 was political blowback for years of American militarism in the Middle East. But 10 years later, there are still many Americans who are more comfortable with the explanation that the terrorists attacked us because “they hate us for our freedom.” For those people, Bennett’s remarks are unpatriotic and unforgivable.
Yesterday, Bennett apologized on his Facebook page, saying:
“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.”
Will this controversy effect sales of his album, Duets II, which arrives in stores today? How might his comments impact his fan base?