You may have forgotten that U2 frontman Bono was a very occasional guest columnist for The New York Times—after all, it’s been nine months since his Gray Lady debut, and the missive published in yesterday’s Week In Review section was only his fourth under this arrangement. It’s about Barack Obama’s recently bestowed Nobel Peace Prize! And it opens with a reference to Bono getting in hot water with the FCC earlier this decade.
A FEW years ago, I accepted a Golden Globe award by barking out an expletive.
One imagines President Obama did the same when he heard about his Nobel, and not out of excitement.
Now that’s a lede. The rest of the column is fairly standard “we believe in you, Barack” boilerplate, with Bono only dipping into Barrytown rhetoric a few times. Of course, any fan of the U2 frontman, or just his outsized antics, will probably get a kick out of the way he parallels being the lead singer of a band with, y’know, being one of the world’s most prominent leading men:
These new steps — and those 36 words — remind the world that America is not just a country but an idea, a great idea about opportunity for all and responsibility to your fellow man.
All right … I don’t speak for the rest of the world. Sometimes I think I do — but as my bandmates will quickly (and loudly) point out, I don’t even speak for one small group of four musicians. But I will venture to say that in the farthest corners of the globe, the president’s words are more than a pop song people want to hear on the radio. They are lifelines.
And lest you think that was just Bono getting all blustery and messianic again, it’s just an example of the U2 frontman feeling like, well, an American:
But an America that’s tired of being the world’s policeman, and is too pinched to be the world’s philanthropist, could still be the world’s partner. And you can’t do that without being, well, loved. Here come the letters to the editor, but let me just say it: Americans are like singers — we just a little bit, kind of like to be loved. The British want to be admired; the Russians, feared; the French, envied. (The Irish, we just want to be listened to.) But the idea of America, from the very start, was supposed to be contagious enough to sweep up and enthrall the world.
Not throw its arms around the world? I guess that lyrical reference would have been a bit too much of a stretch.
Rebranding America [NYT]
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