Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and activist pop-rocker Bono may be the oddest couple since Oscar and Felix — or maybe Jon and Malcolm. But there they were in Accra, Ghana the other day visiting a high-tech center and watching young Ghanaians input data for a U.S. multinational. The operation, observed O’Neill, was “equal to anything you can find in the world.”
More surprising than that observation — which is at odds with every African stereotype — is that this Republican-rocker pairing might actually do some good. They are a high-visibility, pragmatic duo with more than conscience-salving on their agendas.
Frankly, let’s hear it for Secretary O’Neill, who (eventually) was open-minded enough to hear out Bono on the plight and potential of Africa. And let’s hear it for Bono, nee Paul Hewson, who’s no celebrity lightweight out of the Ed Asner, Richard Gere, Barbra Streisand, Alec Baldwin, Rosie O’Donnell mold.
The U2 singer did his homework on the dire problems of Africa. He also gives more than lip service to how things work in the real world — and why they don’t. He understands, for example, that those calling for debt relief from the G-8 countries need to call on recipients for a meaningful quid pro quo.
Throwing money at chronic, complex problems in the name of good works for poor people is more na