Aging rock star Bono visited Ottawa today and all three leaders of the major parties were falling all over themselves to be seen with him. I was particularly disappointed that Prime Minister Harper met with him. I am not a huge fan of Stephen Harper, but one of the things I admired about him is that he seemed like the type of guy who would never bother to meet with Bono. It seems I have misjudged the Prime Minister yet again.
I wasn’t the least bit surprised that either Thomas Mulcair or Justin Trudeau met with him. Mr. Trudeau no doubt views himself as a rock star as well, and so it made perfect sense that he would want to spend some quality time with one of his brethren. I suspect that the most modern artist in Thomas Mulcair’s music collection is Stravinsky, but his base adores self-important celebrities who lecture governments about aid, so he had no choice but to meet with a person that, to him, was just some stranger with funny sunglasses and an Irish accent. But for Stephen Harper to even acknowledge Bono’s presence is strangely out of character.
I understand that the Prime Minister is an avid musician in his spare time, and he may well be a fan of U2, but I have to believe that he looks at Bono as just another vapid celebrity hypocrite who pontificates on social issues while exploiting Dutch tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of tax on music royalties. Stephen Harper has always been someone who, in a manner not entirely unlike Stephen Colbert, has steadfastly remained in character as the stereotypical, middle aged, grumpy, old fashioned conservative. Though that has kept him from being broadly popular, it has helped him maintain a solid base of conservative voters and a handful of independents who at least felt they knew what they were getting when voting for him. As an independent voter myself, watching the Prime Minister take time out of his schedule to meet with the nauseatingly self-righteous Bono, I feel like I no longer recognize the man.
What exactly does all this mean? Could it be the Mr. Harper has become unnerved by the NDP’s recent spike in popularity? Or is it that in addition to being a rock star who wrote great songs several decades ago, Bono has some sort of magical, Jedi-like ability to control the minds of all politicians? In any case, someone should probably remind the Prime Minister that it is a little late in the game to be breaking character.