U2 and the Claw a break from sex scandals in Washington

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AMERICA: The Obama generation now lords it over the Reagan generation and Bono is their bard, writes LARA MARLOWE

MENTION THE Lisbon Treaty referendum here and your American interlocutor's eyes glaze over. But tell them you have tickets for a U2 concert and they exclaim, moan and beg to go with you.

On Tuesday, a White House correspondent asked in all seriousness at the daily briefing whether Bono, The Edge or Larry Mullen would attend President Barack Obama's policy meeting on Sudan and Darfur.

That evening, a friend offered me a lift to Maryland, in exchange for one of my precious tickets. The Mapquest print-out said it would take 26 minutes, but the massive tailback started just after we crossed the District of Columbia line.

We listened to the Joshua Tree album, counted the stretch limos stuck alongside us (at least six) and wondered why the most powerful country in the world could not manage traffic at a rock concert.

The journey took two hours. We missed the invitation to pre- concert drinks and the warm-up act by Muse.

It was all worth it, though, just to stand on Fedex Field while Bono crooned With or Without You and feel oneself transported into a science fiction epic by the incredible spectacle of the smoke-belching Claw.

The Claw, said the Washington Post , is "the stage prop to end all stage props".

On television, the reviewer noted, it looked slightly scary.

"In person, it felt more like The Colossal Robotic Crustacean That's About to Stomp Off Into Prince George's County and Destroy Everything in Its Path."

To cheers, Bono said: "We can eradicate extreme poverty in our lifetime," while the cynic in me wondered how eradicating poverty meshed with all those stretch limos.

Images of post-election protests in Iran, the Burmese Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi and a speech by the South African Bishop Desmond Tutu were projected on The Claw's giant, cylindrical, rotating video screen.

"Does lead singer Bono bring politics into it a little too much?" the reviewer in the Charlottesville Daily Progress asked after Thursday night's concert in Virginia.

"Why yes he does, but in between the preachy stuff he puts on a grade-A show."

There was a whiff of marijuana in the air at Fedex Field. The audience was older than one might expect at a rock concert, and more politicised.

In the US, the Obama generation now lords it over the Reagan generation and Bono is their bard.

U2 are far superior to the usual entertainment here: the antics of a US congressman.

Video clips of the former representative Tom DeLay competing in the reality show Dancing With the Stars have been shown ad nauseum on US television - mainly his wiggling, middle-aged posterior and the scene where he almost drops his dance partner.

DeLay has a particularly American talent for reinventing himself. A career in pest control earned him the nickname "The Exterminator".

As a Congressman from Texas, he rose to House majority leader. His talent at forcing Republicans in the House to tow President George W Bush's line changed his moniker to "The Hammer".

DeLay resigned in 2006, under the shadow of a campaign financing scandal.

During pre-competition promotion for Dancing With the Stars , he admitted to subscribing to the anti-Obama place of birth conspiracy theory.

Washington has sex scandals galore.

Scoundrel, cad, rogue . . . the former senator from North Carolina John Edwards, who was a serious contender for the Democratic nomination in 2008, has been called them all.

Edwards had an affair with Rielle Hunter, a young woman who was filming his campaign, while Elizabeth Edwards, John's wife and the mother of their four children, fought stage IV breast cancer.

When the liaison was revealed by the tabloid National Enquirer, Edwards initially denied it and asked Andrew Young, a campaign aide, to claim paternity of Hunter's baby.

Now Young is writing a book claiming that Edwards tried to falsify a paternity test and asked rich campaign contributors to buy Hunter's silence.

A federal grand jury is investigating whether Edwards violated any campaign financing laws.

According to Young, Edwards promised Hunter he would marry her in a rooftop ceremony in Manhattan when his wife died. The Dave Matthews Band would perform for their nuptials, he said.

Elizabeth Edwards stood by her man until now, as demands for a DNA test on Hunter's baby and allegations of financial impropriety grew.

Yesterday, the National Enquirer reported that Ms Edwards - whose cancer has metastasised - is divorcing the wayward former senator and claiming her share of the $53 million he amassed as a trial lawyer.

© 2009 irishtimes.com

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This page contains a single entry by Jonathan published on October 3, 2009 5:10 AM.

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