Blessed be the ties that bind

bonohelmsOK, it's just a little cute Associated Press story about the Alpha Male rock star hanging out with the once powerful arch-conservative U.S. senator. Some would say that it doesn't need to be taken all that seriously. But I have my reasons for wishing that Paul Nowell had done more with his recent "Bono Dines With Former North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms" report from Charlotte, N.C., that ran all over the place.

Here's a chunk of the short text, which seems to think it is breaking news that these two men are friends:

Before U2 opened to a raucous crowd of 17,000 at the city's new downtown arena, Bono had dinner with Helms.

"He (Bono) called us a couple of weeks ago and said he wanted to see his old friend the senator," said John Dodd, president of the Jesse Helms Center, who accompanied Helms and other family members to Monday's meeting.

Since they were introduced several years ago, the Republican Helms and Bono have become close allies in the fight against the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Helms, who is 84 and suffers from a number of serious health problems, arrived backstage before the show and was joined by Bono for a casual meal. On the menu: grilled chicken, roast beef and salmon. "It was nothing fancy," Dodd said. "They ate in the cafeteria with the roadies and the rest of the crew."

Now, to be fair, it is possible that Nowell had zero access to Bono or the senator and, thus, he was not really able to talk about what pulled them together for this meeting or, of course, what they talked about. Note, however, the assumption that the main tie that binds them is political. This is the font of all life, of course, in the worldview of many or most mainstream reporters.

But I suspect that politics, or even foreign affairs, was not the main topic of discussion. I suspect this because (a) that is not really what knit the two together in the first place and (b) Helms is in bad health and it seems that Bono may have wanted to lend him comfort and friendly support -- even though Helms is no longer one of the principalities and powers inside the D.C. Beltway.

Having listened in on at least one short chat between these men -- click here for details -- I can tell you that they probably talked about faith, compassion and love. It would have been interesting to see what the senator's spokesperson would have said if Nowell had asked a simple question: Did Bono and Helms spend some time in prayer?

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