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Bono's Lobbyist Lecture Circuit
February 6, 2006

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

A warning to politicians and business folks: Bono wants to rock your world. In the process he evidently would also like to fatten his already sizable wallet.

Anyone who's thinking about booking the Irish rocker for a speaking event in the near future will have to arrange things through a fancy shmancy New York speakers' agency, a bureau which also happens to represent former Presidents Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford.

Touting his position as Lead Singer of U2 and Co-Founder of DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), the agency's Web site gives a boost to Bono with a quote from UN head Kofi Annan: "You have taught young people that they do have the power to change this world."

When Bono recently pitched President George W. Bush on the idea of allocating an extra 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget for the world's poor, it had an altruistic ring to it. (Bush called the rocker a "doer" but stopped short of forking over the requested U.S. taxpayer money.)

Still, there's something peculiar about an advocate for the poor hitting the same lecture circuit as Bill Clinton for the same apparent pecuniary reasons.

Bono recently spoke to a packed house at the Washington Hilton & Towers, where over 3,000 people were willing to shell out 95 bucks a piece to attend an event sponsored by the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) called "The Future in Front of Us: Living a More Involved Life." (In the past the ASAE, which consists of managers of non-profit associations, has featured such luminaries as Oprah and Dr. Phil. And listed as a coming attraction is none other than CNN nabob and heartthrob Larry King.) The crowd gave Bono three standing ovations. Fortunately, it restrained itself from engaging in the rock concert ritual of match lighting.

A good part of the enthusiasm of the audience came in response to Bono's nuts and bolts references to lobbying activities.

Expressing his impatience with the ability to accomplish things in the nation's capital, Bono explained, "It's a combination of our own indifference and a Kafkaesque labyrinth of 'No's' - as people vanish down the corridors of democracy."

"Those of you in this town know what I'm talking about," he added.

Bono also spoke of his discussions with President Bush in which he encouraged AIDS assistance.

To convince him to distribute anti-AIDS drugs, Bono recalled telling the president, "Paint them red, white and blue if you have to."

The rocker doesn't seem to notice where the money he wishes to siphon off comes from. It's involuntarily removed from the back pockets of American workers.

Memo to Bono: If you use your own money you can paint it whatever color you want.

Reproduced with the permission of . All rights reserved

Copyright © 2006
James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.

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