Jill Biden, Democrats and USAID: Doing Good by Doing Good

Watching television a couple nights ago, I found myself watching a gritty, in-your-face advertisement featuring Jill Biden advocating for relief for “dying children in Africa.” The ad was sponsored by USAID, and it was playing 4 weeks before the elections. What’s wrong with that, you ask. It’s not like she was stumping for her husband or the President or anything.

Here’s the ad (USAID will love me for posting it, I’m sure).

Hmm. Really? She wasn’t stumping?  When you watch that advertisement, does the first thing that run through your mind involve concern for dying “children in the horn of Africa”? By the way, I’m loving the complete lack of distinction between any given region, country, state in the “Horn of Africa”?  And if the reason to run the ad is really about dying children in Africa, why not get Lara Croft herself to do the ad, given her role as humanitarian ambassador for all issues African?

Biden is one of a bunch of celebrities who signed up to represent USAID exactly 1 year ago, according to their press release, including, Uma Thurman, Josh Hartnett, Geena Davis and Chanel Iman, Lance Armstrong, and Anthony Bourdain. I will grant that I don’t watch a lot of television, and so I’m unable to have a sense of how often ads featuring these other celebrities have played during the last year—or even for that matter, during the last month.

But it’s more than interesting that USAID wants to run that ad at this moment—an ad featuring the wife of the incumbent Democratic vice-president. I’m not seeing a similar ad from Ann Romney—and I’m guessing, given her Mormon leanings, that she’s pretty darn sympathetic to fighting droughts, famines, and wars that kill “children in Africa.” Why isn’t she featured? Do you honestly think she would have turned down an opportunity to promote her favorite causes—a) Mormon proselytizing, b) imperial concern for poor black children in far away places, or c) her hubbalicious (not necessarily in that order)?

I’m not suggesting some conspiracy or collusion between USAID and Jill Biden. I’m sure that they never discussed the mutual advantages of having free Democratic advertising. And that’s exactly the problem: tacitly, all sides were presumably aware that they were entering into a negotiation to feature her at the beginning of the run up to the 2012 presidential elections. And it’s a win-win-win for all sides. USAID gets to be affiliated with the Democrats. The Democrats get to be affiliated with USAID, not to mention the free advertising that circumvents campaign rules. And they both get to live vicariously through Bono and Christmas 1984.

.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Jill Biden, Democrats and USAID: Doing Good by Doing Good

  1. It would be nice if someone put together a counter-ad demonstrating that USAID is little more than the friendly face of US imperialism. I used to be a Peace Corps volunteer and I remember staying in the home of a USAID worker when I had to go to the country capital. Suffice to say, the luxury in which they lived was astounding; they had maids, gardeners, drivers and, on top of that, a huge, free home in a gated community — it was like a South American Green Zone. USAID employees could literally spend entire days in Peru without having to interact with a single Peruvian who wasn’t employed by them or the agency.

  2. A nice ad, thanks for posting.

    If there isn’t a world war, In 20 years Africa will be booming. It will be the only place with cheap labor left.

Comments are closed.