A State Department release from Monday doctored remarks from U2’s Bono, twisting his quote to mean the very opposite of what he apparently believes. Here’s the State Department paragraph, two graphs below the lede [besides underlining, excerpt appears exactly as published]:
Bono, lead singer of the Irish band U2 and longtime activist for aid to Africa, echoed Geldof’s praise for President Bush as he told an American television interviewer June 26, “[Bush] has already doubled and tripled aid to Africa . I think he has done an incredible job, his administration, on AIDS. 250,000 Africans are on anti-viral drugs; they literally owe their lives to America.”
In fact, Bono only said the latter half of that quote during his appearance on Meet the Press last Sunday. The first part — “[Bush] has already doubled and tripled aid to Africa” — is deceptively transplanted from an interview Bono did with Time magazine that Tim Russert quoted on the show, and the State Department has taken it entirely out of context. Here’s the full quote:
Question: Which of the G8 leaders do you think remains the toughest nut to crack?
Bono: The most important and toughest nut is still President Bush. He feels he’s already doubled and tripled aid to Africa, which he started from far too low a place. He can stand there and say he paid at the office already. He shouldn’t because he’ll be left out of the history books. But it’s hard for him because of the expense of the war and the debts.
In other words, Bono was relaying President Bush’s claim (which he repeated during his press conference with Tony Blair this month) that his administration has tripled aid to Africa. Yet we know Bono does not believe that Bush has tripled aid to Africa. On Meet the Press, Bono said that while Bush has made a commitment to triple aid, that will only be the case “if he follows through” on that pledge.
This blatant dishonesty is even more relevant in light of the study by Susan Rice that Brookings released this week. Rice’s analysis showed that…
…U.S. aid to Africa from FY 2000 (the last full budget year of the Clinton Administration) to FY2004 (the last completed fiscal year of the Bush Administration) has not “tripled” or even doubled. Rather, in real dollars, it has increased 56% (or 67% in nominal dollar terms). The majority of that increase consists of emergency food aid, rather than assistance for sustainable development of the sort Africa needs to achieve lasting poverty reduction.