Sunday, September 21, 2003

A BERK IN THE HAND IS WORTH U2 WITH THE BUSH: We weren't sure when Bono appeared standing next to Bush if he was just incredibly, incredibly naive or if he was just fond of hanging out with famous people. What we did guess was that he couldn't seriously assume that Bush was going to do any good, could he? Our jaw dropped further when Bob Geldof piped up suggesting that Bush was a truly good man, giving all that money to Africans with Aids when all that Clinton did was talk about it. Geldof's 'Bush is great' has quickly become a cuttings standby for lapsed liberals looking for a reason to excuse their support for the Bush-Blair alliance - "aah, Geldof says that Bush has done great things for the African Aids crisis." Even allowing for the obvious point that, erm, Bush was boosting the American drug industry rather than the African aids budget (at the time, America was refusing to support rule changes allowing developing nations to bypass drug patents, which would have been a far greater benefit in the medical fight against HIV infection than merely finding a backdoor to pass large piles of money back to lucrative campaign supporters), this all seemd a little bit rum. Now, Bono seems surprised that Bush is backsliding on the deal - Bush has cut back what he was promising for next year by a third, and that's before Capitol Hill get a chance to cut it back further. Bono thinks his commitment is genuine still; we suspect that Bush is less interested now the African nations will be able to spend the money on their own, No Frills version of the drugs, and we'd be surprised if he's going to be fighting too hard to keep the 2004 payment at the USD2bn. After all, he's had the photo-opprtunity with Bono; Sir Bob has been going round praising him for doing good - and he didn't need to give a cent to get all of that. Even when Mr. Bono is trying to shame him into keeping to his word, he's still saying 'yeah, Bush is basically a good bloke...' So, on balance, it seems that Bono is just crippling naive. Which is a shame, but then: you should never put your faith in a rockstar.

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