The Banality of Bono
By Bernie Quigley
- for The Hill on 1/05/10
Our new year has begun with grave warning from a select few of America’s venerable and good. Bob Herbert, one of the oldest and most mature liberal voices and still the best at the NYTs, says this morning, “Our society is in deep trouble and the fixes currently in the works are in no way adequate to the enormous challenges we’re facing.” While Peggy Noonan, the venerable and the good at the Wall Street Journal, warns this year that we may fall apart. William Daley, who stayed at his post while the others were playing golf with Bill, warned the Democrats directly that if they don’t move to the center they will not only lose in 2010 but long into the future. One symptom of the illness which plagues us: So many New York Democrats still yearn for Bill. They suffer from low grade viral utopianism. They listen to Bono. It is killing them. It could kill us all.
Bono is now an occasional columnist at the New York Times. By choosing Bono, the Irish singer for which we cannot recall any particular song attached to his group, U2, the NYTs and its captive audience reveals its entrapment by Clinton era one-worldism. It is the curse of an arrested political sensibility which craved rock stars and scorned wise advisors like John Kenneth Galbraith; it is a curse to a great paper that is becoming a life style sheet. If ever there was a tribute to an era which never really was – the phrase Cloud Coukoo Land comes to mind - it is Bono.
Bono is his own Norway; his own Nobel Committee, our own Great Auntie in Europe, self appointed to help us and bring us back when we go astray as we so often do. He has this week ten recommendations for us for the new year; ways in which we may become better.
But Bono’s world view is as thin as that amorphous mash of unidentifiable rock music that they plague us with in grocery stores and drug stores. In Bonoworld, everyone is an American by degree, even non-Americans like Bono, and presumably anti-Americans like Osama bin Laden, who just doesn’t get it yet. This was discovered to be delusional by Obama only last week in Copenhagen. Sarko offered better advise earlier: He told us in fact that he doesn’t like us that much. Germany first left the Bono/Clinton coalition in taking its own path financially. France more recently has declared itself to be European, not pseudo-American like Bono. Russia same as always. Japan declared independence from Bonoworld months back and said it would link with Asia now instead. Have a nice day. China now too with new friends everywhere, some which hate us.
But Bono sees himself as avatar to almost all the world’s people; the people who watch soccer. It would include us too if only we would catch on. This world can be visualized as one of those big birthday cakes with Bill and Hillary the little figurines at the top and Bono waving behind them in his rosy glasses. A better picture is the donut: There are 2 billion watching soccer and more playing on the edges. But the hole in the donut is the center of the circle and there they play American football. These people are different. The inside is not like the outside. They have different histories, different desires, different creation myths and beginnings, different responsibilities and karma.
It is better to live in the center – the center of the world; the center of the donut – than to be left behind in the outlands, like Bono and the Norwegians, pointing and braying. Ours is the place of beginnings, ours is a new creation; theirs the place of long, slow endings and knock off and imitation. Here in the center of the circle, if you want to become a biker or join the Hari Khrishnas or the Mormons go ahead. Whatever we do is of new beginnings and whatever we do will find imitators in the outlands as Elvis, Carl Perkins, Hank Williams and Bo Diddly did when they invented Bono’s world for him here in the Mississippi delta and Appalachian hollows 60 years ago.