While Bono is perfectly willing to rub shoulders with world leaders to push his favorite causes, he now says that he draws the line with being used by them in particular ways: U2 moves to distance itself from politicians.
Some would argue that they’ve already been using him to look either cool and hip or somewhat concerned with his agenda when they do photo-op’s with him (by the way, ever wonder where the rest of the band is during these meet-up’s?). However, when it comes to ultra-scalping of tickets for campaign funds, that’s a no-no. That applies not just to a weirdo, scumbag Republican like Rick Santorum (who praises Bono’s AIDS campaign though he himself has bizarre thoughts on homosexuality that the Daily Show couldn’t script) but also craft, ambitious Democrats like Hilary Clinton (who still looks like the inevitable party front-runner), which seems to mean that he’s non-partisan in his hatred of this practice.
So what exactly is he objecting to here? Is it that the politicos are charging 10-20 times the normal ticket price to hang with them at a rock concert or is it that they won’t support any particular politician through their concerts. Their statement about this says: “The U2 concerts are categorically not fundraisers for any politician they are rock concerts for U2 fans.” Which is a nice sentiment though truth be known, U2 shows do push political agendas. Before walking into Madison Square Garden for a Friday show, a human rights booth was there to gather names for petitions- the people working the booth said that they were there with the band’s blessings. During the show, Bono himself couldn’t resist parcelling out some sociopolitical wisdom to the faithful about similiar sentiments. It must be trying to do that ’cause I noticed that even his between-song banter about this was scripted in his teleprompter which usually was telling him the lyrics to his songs- indeed, he missed some cues and timing on song of the vocals for the tunes later on. On the plus side, compared to the lengthy diatribes circa Rattle & Hum, he’s thankfully tamed himself down quite a bit- one video shown during the show had an Asian girl read a list of human rights declarations, which was very moving and more powerful coming from another source than the gent on stage with the mic.
But what’s this sudden distancing going to mean for his future endeavors in the political world? Not to say that he himself is interested in a political life ’cause he savors being a rock star so much but he also savors the roll of being a justice crusader too. That means using his star power to get face time with the real power elite and try to twist their arm or shame them into helping third world nation’s economies and supporting human rights treaties. As writer Dave Marsh noted on a recent PBS program though, politicians aren’t going to change their stripes just ’cause a rock star politely asks them to. I agree with that sentiment but also note that Bono doesn’t leave it at that as witnessed by the concert booths and stage announcements that he greets his fans with. Which is to say, I don’t doubt his sincerity about his pet causes and if he can convert a few of his fans to his cause, he’s doing admirable work.
With his stance now, he seems to be saying that he’ll cozy up to the politicos if they’ll at least listen to his message (and get some additional press for the cause) but there’s a limit to the way that they want to use him in return. A lot of them are very well ignoring or dismissing his concerns but maybe this is a signal that he won’t let them pimp for him all the time.