This article written by Bob Geldof has a real air of surrealism. It’s about his flight on Air Force One and the time he spent chatting with US President George W Bush.
The Secretary of State, looking glamorous and fresh despite having been diverted to Kenya to articulate the U.S.’s concern over matters there before jetting back to Rwanda to join her boss, sits down. “Hi, Bob.” “Hi, Condi.” It’s like being inside a living TV screen.
Geldof is promoting the concerns of Africa as he has been for as long as I can remember.
You forget that Bush has an M.B.A. He thinks like a businessman in terms of the bottom line. Results. Profit and loss. There is an empiricism to a lot of his furthest-reaching policies on Africa. Correctly, he’s big on trade. “A 1% increase in trade from Africa,” he says, “will mean more money than all the aid put together annually.” He’s proud that he twice reauthorized the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), a modestly revolutionary Clinton Administration initiative that enabled previously heavily taxed exports to enter the U.S. tax-free.
Iraq is a little bit of a prickly topic. Clearly the worldview of these two men is separated by a vast gulf. However Geldof is on a public relations mission. He is keen to put Bush in a good light.
I have always heard that Bush mangles language and I’ve laughed at the satires of his diction. He shrugs them off, but I think he’s sensitive about it. He has some verbal tics, but in public and with me he speaks fluently and in wonderful aphorisms, like:
“Stop coming to Africa feeling guilty. Come with love and feeling confident for its future.”
It is always interesting to watch very different people come together for a common cause. Check it out.