ATLANTA, NOV. 16 -- President Bush, who pledged "no new taxes" and then called for "tax revenue increases," won the 1990 Doublespeak Award from the National Council of Teachers of English today.
The annual award calls attention to statements by officials that are "grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing or self-contradictory," said William Lutz of Rutgers University, chairman of the group's Committee on Public Doublespeak.
Second place went to Mobil Corp. for calling one of its trash bags "photodegradable" even while buried in landfills. Third place went to House Minority Whip Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) for supporting and then opposing tax increases.
Before opposing Bush on the tax increase, Gingrich defended the president's stand by saying: "He very explicitly didn't say, 'Raise taxes.' He said, 'Seek new revenues.' "
Mobil spokesman John Lord said the company never claimed that the bags would degrade in landfills. He said Mobil contended that an environmentally safe additive speeded decomposition when the bags were exposed to sunlight.
Bush's doublespeak included statements about maternity leave, according to the teachers group. During his campaign, he said, "We . . . need to assure that women do not have to worry about getting their jobs back after having a child or caring for a child during a serious illness."
After his election, however, Bush vetoed the bill for parental and medical leave. A White House statement said the president "has always been opposed to the federal government mandating what every business in this country should do."
Lutz also cited two foreign policy examples: U.S. response to the massacre in and around Tiananmen Square in Beijing and the invasion of Panama.
After Tiananmen Square, Bush announced suspension of U.S. "participation in all high-level exchanges of government officials" with China. Two weeks later, Bush "secretly sent national security adviser Brent Scowcroft and Deputy Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger to China," Lutz said.
Bush called the trip a "contact," not an "exchange," but then resumed negotiations for arms sales to China.
Lutz also said Bush refused to refer to the U.S. mission in Panama as an invasion, saying he "deployed forces" in Operation Just Cause. But he noted that at a news conference Dec. 21, Bush said, "You could say, 'How come you didn't tell me that you were going to invade the -- send in those troops down into Panama?' "