Bono’s meeting with President Bush on Tuesday was apparently cordial, to a point. At a press conference at a church across the street from the White House afterward, the U2 frontman said he’d had a ”good old row” with the president over the administration’s pledge to fund AIDS relief in Africa, an effort Bono said Bush was now ”short-changing.”
The rocker, a spokesman for DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), said he believed the president was ”sincere” in his concern over the issue. In his State of the Union address in January, Bush pledged $3 billion a year for five years to provide preventative care and treatment for AIDS in Africa, where 30 million people are infected so far. However, the White House has authorized only $2 billion in funds this year, and Bono said he failed to convince the president to fully fund his initiative.
The administration has said it’s holding back the full funds for logistical reasons. ”You need to make sure the infrastructure is in place for those resources to be spent,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan told reporters Tuesday.
Bono said he finds that argument patronizing. ”It’s sort of ‘We’d love to give them the money, but the Africans just couldn’t spend it,”’ he told USA Today earlier this week. ”Please, just say you don’t have the money, but don’t say that.”
I’m not here peddling a cause,” Bono said Tuesday at the church. ”Seven thousand people dying a day is not a cause. It’s an emergency.”