Stuck in a Moment

A crowd that included former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, novelist Kurt Vonnegut and former Talk editor Tina Brown feasted on rare beef and analysis of corporate woes at a lunch last week in New York. Brown’s husband, Harold Evans, moderated a panel assembled by The Week magazine and its editor, William Falk, that featured a former CEO (Don Marron of PaineWebber), a former U.S. senator (Warren Rudman, R-N.H.) and a former U.S. secretary of commerce (Peter Peterson, who served under Nixon). They discussed hot-button corporate bugaboos, including issues of disclosure and board indepen dence. Then U2 frontman Bono called in to make a plea for helping developing nations in Africa. A few of the silver-haired panelists mispronounced his name (rhyming it with “Oh, no!”), but the rocker pressed on, noting that there are “potentially another 10 Afghanistans in Africa” and that the U.S. should “prevent the fires rather than putting them out” later on. Borrowing from the language of marketing, he likened the U.S. to a brand that had “lost a bit of its shine” since World War II. Rudman complimented Bono on his ideas, but said they’d find no traction in Washington, given the financial priorities at home. Still, Bono offered, “Dealing with the way that brand USA is perceived in the world might be smart, as opposed to the bleeding-heart position.” Call us, Bono. We’ll connect you with Charlotte Beers.