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Old 05-25-2002, 09:47 AM   #1
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Is anyone worried about Bono's trip to Africa because....

it's possible he's just being used? Check this new Rolling Stone article out. I've heard this argument from other places, too. Here's hoping Bono's a shrewd and deft enough amature politician that he'll hold the right ppl accountable for results. I mean, isn't that what we all want?

Here's the article:

Rocking My Life Away
Is Bono being used?

Rolling Stone, May 24, 2002


Anthony DeCurtis

"Is he doing it for the publicity?" Just about every reporter I've spoken to in the news media recently has asked me if Bono's visit to Africa in the company of Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill isn't a publicity stunt. As if U2 needed the publicity -- and as if there weren't far easier ways for the band members to get it if they did. No, Bono is visiting Africa with O'Neill precisely for his stated reasons: To try to convince the Bush administration to provide further debt relief to impoverished nations and to invest long term in building up the physical and economic infrastructures of those countries. Remove the swept-back black hair and the blue-tinted shades, and it's not a very sexy story at all.

The sexier story by far is why O'Neill would agree to bring Bono along on this jaunt. When the singer first tried to arrange a meeting with the Secretary about a year ago, O'Neill refused, telling his staff that he thought Bono was trying to "use" him. That's mainstream political thinking at its finest -- seemingly tough-minded but, in fact, just hard-headed and essentially clueless. Other than trying to advance a political cause just like everybody else who goes to Washington, what conceivable use could Bono make of O'Neill?

But as O'Neill has learned -- along with his boss, President George W. Bush, you can be sure -- the Republican party can make splendid use of Bono, and the singer would be wise to keep that fact in mind during his African visit and afterwards. As the President struggles with the perception both in this country and abroad that he is intolerant of any position that differs from his own, images of a cabinet member cavorting with one of the world»dI best-loved rock stars (not to mention the photos taken previously of Bono flashing the V sign while walking next to Bush) create the impression of youthful, progressive open-mindedness. Those pictures can certainly prove helpful come election time -- you can be sure that you haven't seen the last of them by a long shot. And if, finally, the Bush administration doesn't deliver on any of the goals that Bono wants to achieve, what the hell, that's just the way the political ball bounces. But at least they listened.

To his credit Bono has proven a deft politician himself during his debt-relief crusade. First he framed the issue in moral terms as a way of appealing to conservative Republicans, like Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina, who like to wear their Christianity on their sleeves. Then, after the attacks on September 11th, he argued to the Bush administration that impoverished populations are kindling for the terrorists' flame. The more the United States eases the plight of those countries, the less susceptible they are to extremist, fundamentalist ideologies. That's a point Bono has been making over and over again on this trip.

But for all his willingness to put up with nonstop Odd Couple jokes, O'Neill is no champion of increased aid to Africa. He's an unabashed free marketer who has repeatedly claimed that "we have precious little to show" for whatever aid poor nations have already received. Generally speaking, he and Bono have been expertly diplomatic in their statements leading up to and during the trip. When O'Neill says things like "For too long, we've seen too little progress," Bono and his supporters can agree -- from their point of view, that lack of progress in ending African poverty is the very reason for their activism. From O'Neill's perspective, however, the lack of progress is entirely the fault of the African nations themselves for squandering the resources so generously provided to them by the West.

There have been signs that the fissures in Bono and O'Neill's delicately balanced relationship have already begun to show. In Ghana, Bono openly wondered whether 800 employees at a company doing work for American corporations for $1 an hour were being exploited. He also visited Nima, a run-down area of Accra, Ghana's capital -- tellingly, while O'Neill was giving a speech to the American Chamber of Commerce. Bono was appalled by the devastation he witnessed there. "I got all kinds of mixed feelings," Bono told journalists afterwards. "Agitation . . . quite angry, I'm getting angrier as the day goes on. I cannot believe that this is a world I want to be part of. Nima is the real world. It's where the full force of the free market is being felt. I thought they should be throwing rocks at us." The singer also accused the U.S. of hypocrisy for preaching free trade to poor countries whose economies can barely function, while propping up the American farm industry to diminish the impact of imports. "You can't have debt cancellation on the one hand and trade subsidies on the other," Bono said. "I don't like this kind of duplicity."

But Bono's experience with duplicity may be just beginning. He's a bright guy, and he understands that by going to Africa with Treasury Secretary O'Neill, he has walked into a lion's den. "My job is to be used," he bluntly told the Washington Post. "I am here to be used. It's just, at what price? As I keep saying, I'm not a cheap date." Maybe not, but as that old-fashioned relationship adage goes, Why buy a cow when the milk is free? The Republican party may already have gotten everything it needs from Bono. And as for that morning-after phone call, whether O'Neill and the president honor whatever promises they made to make their date with Bono such a public relations boon very much remains to be seen.

© Rolling Stone, 2002.


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Old 05-25-2002, 10:17 AM   #2
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I'm not really sure what to make of this. I know RS is very, very biased against the Republicans so hopefully it's just speculation and opinion. It probably just makes them sick to see an intelligent, popular, cool rock star like Bono 'sleeping with the enemy' as they would feel (I don't) and they'd probably rather see him, as he said, 'on a picket line with a placard in my hand and a rag over my face' but he is getting farther doing it the way he's doing it now! I don't think Bono would let himself be tricked, he's too smart. If anything maybe it's the other way around- Bono is 'using' them but I think if it works out they can help each other and no one will be 'used.' I'm sure we'll find out in time and see how it works out. I'm just hoping the best for everyone, from Bono to the poor kids in Africa.

[This message has been edited by Desire4Bono (edited 05-25-2002).]
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Old 05-25-2002, 10:39 AM   #3
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I'm sure Bono has already thought of the possibility that the Republicans could be using him to freshen up their image in America. However, he also knows that the results he can get from hanging with the Republicans far outweigh the consequences.

[This message has been edited by kariatari (edited 05-25-2002).]
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Old 05-25-2002, 10:49 AM   #4
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I agree with kariatari, I think the "using" is going both ways. The Repulicans are using their partnership with Bono to improve the party's image with younger voters. Also, I think Bono is using them to get changes in our foriegn policies.

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Old 05-25-2002, 11:09 AM   #5
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Like kariatari said, Bono probably is aware of the possibility that the Republicans are just using him, but he's willing to take that risk in hopes that some good will come out of it. Even if he doesn't convince O'Neill about what needs to be done in Africa, perhaps he can convince other politicians or at least make them more aware of the situation.
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Old 05-25-2002, 11:39 AM   #6
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Nope I dont think Bono can be duped.
So I agree w/most everyone in this thread.
One last point-
We Republicans are PEOPLE TOO.

thank you-

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Old 05-25-2002, 12:17 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by Desire4Bono:
I don't think Bono would let himself be tricked, he's too smart. If anything maybe it's the other way around- Bono is 'using' them
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Old 05-25-2002, 01:51 PM   #8
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Of course he's being used. but he is also USING the opportunity and these politicians for his own purposes. He's said so in interviews. I think he feels strongly enough about this issue that he is willing to be "used" for the greater good. Bono ain't stupid and he wasn't born yesterday.
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Old 05-25-2002, 04:17 PM   #9
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Originally posted by Zooropa:
Also, it always bugs me that us Republicans are generally reffered to as the bad guys. What's with that??

Because O'Neill is one and he keeps insisting that we only see Africa and Africans as workers, not humans.

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Old 05-25-2002, 04:48 PM   #10
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Well said sula and kariatari. Thanks for posting the RS article Sherry.
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Old 05-26-2002, 02:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally posted by sulawesigirl4:
Of course he's being used. but he is also USING the opportunity and these politicians for his own purposes. He's said so in interviews. I think he feels strongly enough about this issue that he is willing to be "used" for the greater good. Bono ain't stupid and he wasn't born yesterday.


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Old 05-26-2002, 02:41 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by diamond:
Nope I dont think Bono can be duped.
So I agree w/most everyone in this thread.
One last point-
We Republicans are PEOPLE TOO.

thank you-

diamond

My thoughts exactly. It's the inherent nature of politics, kind of like the old "one hand washes the other". Both sides gain from it. Also, it always bugs me that us Republicans are generally reffered to as the bad guys. What's with that??


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