On 29 March 2017, New York magazine published a story by investigative reporter Yashar Ali that cited three people who independently said they overheard former President George W. Bush walk away from 45th President Donald Trump’s 20 January 2017 inauguration ceremony, saying, “That was some weird shit”:
Bush’s endearing struggle with his poncho at the event quickly became a meme, prompting many Democrats on social media to admit that they already pined for the relative normalcy of his administration. Following Trump’s short and dire speech, Bush departed the scene and never offered public comment on the ceremony.
But, according to three people who were present, Bush gave a brief assessment of Trump’s inaugural after leaving the dais: “That was some weird shit.” All three heard him say it.
A spokesman for Bush declined to comment.
We have not received a response from Bush’s spokesman confirming or denying he made the comment, but Ali told us that he was tipped off by a source who overheard Bush’s offhand observation. Ali then called two other sources who he knew would have been there. Both independently confirmed they heard Bush say the phrase.
Ali told us:
The three sources were present and heard him say it. It was compacted and there were so many people on the dais, but if you’re leaving and walking back into the Capitol, there are a ton of people in the hallway, many of whom he knew.
Ali said he and his editors held off on the story for two months because “every day in this administration is so filled with news” and it was a relatively small news item; he was a bit taken aback by how much attention the quote has received. He said that he thought an investigative report he wrote about allegations that Trump’s deputy National Security Advisor K.T. McFarland misused campaign funds was a more important story.
But Bush’s alleged comments appeared to have captured the zeitgeist of the moment, with some posting on social media that if he had indeed made the comment, it captured their own sentiments:
No one will ever confuse George W. Bush with George Bernard Shaw, but “Weird Shit” really is the best way to describe our current times.
— Will McAvoy (@WillMcAvoyACN) March 30, 2017