I thought about this one quite a bit. In a time where we are knocking celebrities for political speak, there is one person I would endorse for public office if he ever ran (probably elsewhere than here, because of his citizenship status), and that would be Bono from the rock band U2. Crazy enough to get your attention to read the rest of this column, right? After the latest rounds of actors, and musicians speaking out about our current state of affairs (and come on, would you expect them to keep their mouths shut? Right or wrong, how dumb can we be?), if everyone who has said on-line, that they would boycott all these artists and their work, we would have nothing to watch except driver’s ed films, and 1980’s soap operas (plus, the really crappy music from the 1990’s – just the stuff that barks “El Crappo”, that’s all). So... I have done my homework, and ready to state my case: I’m picking Bono.
Smart, savvy, business chops, international influence in politics, has hob knobbed with the Pope, Dubya, and French diplomats in order to get the jing to finance his many humanitarian efforts, Bono can split time between the rock star thing, and the political insider who can get some backroom deals done, to help out cause such as debt relief in Africa, and helping his hometown Dublin’s economy, and do with grace, ease, and stubborn Irish diplomacy. Don’t believe me? Pick up a new, or used copy of “Bono: In Conversation With Michka Assayas,” and check it out for verification.
How George W. Bush and Bono got to be partners in the fight against AIDS in Africa is the centerpiece of this series of interviews. The story goes as such that, back during Bush’s term in office, Bono had approached George about funding to help educate Africans, as well as provide medical relief, for their fight against HIV/AIDS. First glance, funding in this area has usually not been a high priority on the Republican agenda, so the fact that Bono got Bush to even consider a program as such was crazy talk.
In the end, what came about was PEPRAR, or the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief has been a hidden diamond that gets overlooked in the Bush - era presidency. The Bono and Bush alliance seemed unlikely, but Bush calls Bono “the real deal,” as Bono heaps equal praise on Bush. Bono is crazy for getting this accomplished? Yeah, crazy like a fox, and that’s one of many Bono-centric kudos for his political work.
You want business smarts? Check out U2 incorporated, U2 the brand – the band has manage to build a global business brand, with help from manager Paul McGuinness, Island Records head Chris Blackwell, and a loyal, but tough crew. U2 has also managed to keep ownership of all their songs, and their record masters, something unheard of in the nasty side of the recording business. The band has also navigated the currents of on-line technology, embracing the tech revolution. Hey, this is a group of tough Irish folk that grew up in a not-so-great part of Dublin. As I have learned being in a family with five tough Irish/German broads, you do not screw around with the Irish.
Bono has also started, and is still involved with several humanitarian organizations. DATA, or Debit/AIDS/Trade/Africa, was founded in 2002, and is a non-profit to help with debit relief, the AIDS fight, and trade issues in Africa. ONE was founded in 2004, and the DATA campaign is now part of this effort – ONE’s work started as an effort to help fight poverty and hunger. EDUN designs “clothing with a conscience” – an eco-friendly clothing line that Bono’s wife, Ali, is involved in. EDUN also strives to bring fair trade to Africa. Did I mention Bono won a Nobel Peace Prize? Yep, for his “extensive and influential humanitarian work.”
Plus, you could sit down and have a beer with the guy (he might be up for two). And the dude disdains that old notion that artists can’t be bothered, nor care about, the business side of making music, or dealing with the details of money. Bono is a self-described thriving capitalist, not afraid to use both sides of the ol’ cranium.
So, I’m throwing down for Paul Hewson, aka Bono. I think in a current world of gauntlets getting tossed in the ring for bipartisan nastiness, the daily dogfight between those celebrities that voice concern over our current affairs (and really, can we trust someone’s opinion, on some matters of the heart, who makes $50 million per picture, if we’re battling it out for $10 to $15 per hour for our daily bread?), and the rest of us peons will keep us shouting back and forth at each other. So what the heck, why not? Even if Bono never runs for any sort of post, because really, he’s on enough of them right now, but if he keeps doing what he’s doing, I’ll listen to him voice an opinion at least once, if not twice.