U2 frontman and human-rights activist Bono met with Vice President Mike Pence in Munich on Saturday to thank him for his past work in securing funding for HIV/AIDS assistance efforts in developing nations, telling the vice president that "we really appreciate" past efforts in support of the President's Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR. "You're the second-busiest man on earth," Bono said of Pence, before noting that "twice on the House floor you defended [PEPFAR] - that's how we know you." Pence, for his part, remembered Bono's appearance in support of the initiative, which has provided anti-retroviral treatment for tens of millions of people in sub-Saharan Africa since it was created under President George W. Bush. "You played a leading role in carrying it forward," Pence recalled. Despite the apparent friendliness of the chat, Bono has been critical in the past of Pence's boss, calling President Donald Trump "potentially the worst idea that has ever happened to America."
I can appreciate what Bono is doing here. He's operating from a safe place as an Irish citizen. He knows more about America than a lot of Americans do, but he can maintain that distance from our politics and wring money out of Republicans and Democrats alike. The genius of this is that he is willing to look naive and foolish in order to get the money needed to keep people alive.
There isn't anybody out there who is better at charming people who would otherwise tell people dying of AIDS to go pound sand. The fact that he's been doing this for years is proof that there will always be a place where Bono can go and schmooze people, pick their pockets, and deliver that money to the folks who need it. You can be cynical, or you can applaud the fact that the most virulently anti-gay politician in power right now is going to go out and convince Congress to give money to provide anti-retroviral drugs to those who need them. He's going to do that because Bono went to him with his hat in his hand and delivered an irresistible sales pitch. Yes, Pence will use it to prove his humanity. No, Bono won't get credit for making it happen. But people in need will get the drugs. At the end of the day. that's all Mr. Paul Hewson really gives two shits about, and that's all right.
This does not redeem Pence in any way. It does validate the idea that only a mega-celebrity with no other agenda beyond getting blood from stones can pull something like this off and keep his day job. Anyone willing to entertain the inanities of a Mike Pence in order to save lives is fast-tracked for sainthood.