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May 18, 2006

Why Bono Should be our Next Secretary of State
Posted by Shadi Hamid

Yes, this post may strike some as random, but it must be said, and I cannot help but say it. U2's Bono should be our next Secretary of State, under, of course, a Democratic administration in 2008. I came to this “conclusion,” when buried in my MP3 collection, I was struck once again by Bono’s remarkable skills as a communicator. In a live version of the classic “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” he breaks off into one of his impassioned mini-speeches:

Let me tell you something…I’ve had enough of Irish Americans who haven’t been back to their country in twenty or thirty years, come up to me and talk about the resistance, the revolution back home. And the glory of the revolution and the glory of dying for the revolution…Fuck the revolution! They don’t talk about the glory of killing for the revolution. What’s the glory in taking a man from his bed and gunning him down in front of his wife and his children? Where’s the glory in that? Where’s the glory in bombing a Remembrance Day parade of old-age pensioners their medals taken out and polished up for the day? Where’s the glory in that? To leave them dying or crippled for life or dead under the rubble of a revolution that the majority of people in my country don’t want…say no more, no more, no more, no more….”

The crowd, tens of thousands strong, screams back in unison. It is one of those rare, cathartic moments in music. Bono’s message here and elsewhere is affecting, powerful, and totally in keeping with America’s founding ideals. A keen regard not only for the dignity of the oppressed but for those who will no doubt be made to suffer in the sullied name of redemption. Joe Klein, to his credit, keeps on talking about the chokehold political consultants have on the Democratic Party and that we need genuine politicians who actually believe in something, who are alive with feeling, emotion, and (within bounds) righteous anger. Ok, then, let’s do this. Why Bono? Here are 7 reasons:

1. He actually does have substantive foreign policy experience, having met with and discussed the intricacies of Western aid to Africa with heads of state and senior-level officials from around the world. Moreover, he has been on the front lines of setting a new Africa agenda for development organizations, including USAID, the World Bank and the IMF.

2. He will redefine the concept of “Public Diplomacy” as we know it.

3. He is untouched by partisanship. He is, naturally, sympathetic with the Democratic Party, but has somehow managed to transcend such labels and has developed an excellent rapport with lawmakers on both sides of aisle. In other words, it is impossible not to like this man. In fact, I can’t remember hearing even one negative thing about Bono ever.

4. Like most Americans (and most people, generally, unless you live in the vapid, post-modern wasteland of Europe), Bono is deeply religious, but, at the same time, one of the few people in public life whose religion has not been made into an instrument of exclusion and intolerance.

5. He knows how to sell his vision to diverse audiences whether it be rich kingpins at Davos, college students in the MCI Arena, or the tone-deaf members of the most hated US administration in history.

6. He will have the standing and credibility to restore at least some of America’s moral leadership.

7. Enough said.


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The first ever Irish secretary of state for the United States! The commute from Dublin might be a tad excessive.

Poguemahone. Bono is doing more good outside of any government (especially ours) that he could do inside any government (most especially ours). If I had to choose an Irish rocker to represent America, I'd go with Van Morrison or Sean McGowan long before Bono, if only because the first two aren't doing anything diplomacy-wise of their own volition and I'm pretty sure that's a prerequisite for becoming Secretary of State. What better way to woo China into democracy and a de-escalation of military buildup than by singing, "you my brown-eyed girl" or to ease Kurdish-Arab-Armenian tensions in the Middle East with "Turkish Song of the Damned?" Problems in Southeast Asia? "Summer in Siam." Pull American military bases out of Japan? "Sayanora."

Also the current administration, while hated, is not the most hated in US history. Hoover bankrupted the country. LBJ wasn't doing so great with race relations within the US or with the Vietnam war. Even God himself hated William Henry (Hank the Tank) Harrison.

How about Bono unites Ireland by easing tensions from a half a millenium of religious and political retribution killings, and then we consider him for the number four spot in our government?

Then again, "Domingo de Sangre" would make a catchy protest song if US-Mexico tensions erupted into a violent border dispute.

But wait, it gets better. You may or may not know that Bono's speech was delivered in Madison Square Garden (see "Rattle & Hum") in a New York City that in 1987 must have still been a hotbed of IRA support and fundraising. Joe Klein says the test of courage is to say something that will cause you trouble - well, there you go.

For my part, I like pragmatism and people who are interested in how things really work. And I like a prophetic figure like Bono taking the piss out of ethnic romanticism.

Yeah, and maybe the members of the metal band Megadeath could take over from Rummy. And while we're at it, why not let the Village People run the Dept. of Homeland Security?

Yeah, but he looks like Mork!

Sorry, try this one.

How clueless do you have to be not to realize that the Secretary of State has to be an American? Is this a signal from the planet where Democrats now live?

If so, it's rather weak.

It stands to reason that only a Democrat would seriously, seriously, propose nominating an Irish national as U.S. Secretary of State. The waste of bandwidth in this post approaches the offensive, something that rivals the Biafran Famine of 1968 for sheer obscenity.

Bono as Secretary of State? Okay, why not Cindy Sheehan for Secretary of Defense? That about rises to the appropriate level of seriousness with which Democrats treat the national security of the country!

Were that the poster had compared Bush to Hitler, so that I might have reason to invoke Godwin's law.

Ah yes, that planet that the Democrats are signalling from ?


8. It will keep U2 from releasing any more albums for at least 4 years.

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