Monday, November 20, 2006

Who Else Could Have Won? Nobody Does It Better

Michael Bérubé presents some important awards:

The NCTE Doublespeak Award, established in 1974, is an ironic tribute to public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered.

This year’s Doublespeak Award recognizes George W. Bush for the extraordinary speech he delivered in Jackson Square, New Orleans, on September 15, 2005. After two weeks in which the Gulf Coast was devastated, first by Hurricane Katrina and floodwaters and then by an incompetent federal response, President Bush arrived in New Orleans for a series of emergency photo ops orchestrated to give the impression that something was being done, that somebody was in charge. At one point, a team of firefighters, flown from Atlanta to Biloxi as disaster-relief reinforcements, was actually assigned to follow the President around as he walked through the area with his sleeves rolled up.

President Bush capped off his administration’s response to Katrina in a nationally televised speech in which he said:

“In the work of rebuilding, as many jobs as possible should go to the men and women who live in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama.. When communities are rebuilt, they must be even better and stronger than before the storm. Within the Gulf region are some of the most beautiful and historic places in America. As all of us saw on television, there’s also some deep, persistent poverty in this region, as well. That poverty has roots in a history of racial discrimination, which cut off generations from the opportunity of America. We have a duty to confront this poverty with bold action. So let us restore all that we have cherished from yesterday, and let us rise above the legacy of inequality.”

A week earlier, on September 8, the President had issued an executive order suspending the 1931 Davis-Bacon Act, thereby allowing federal contractors rebuilding in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina to pay below the prevailing wage.

Perhaps most remarkably, the President’s speech included the words, “I also want to know all the facts about the government response to Hurricane Katrina.” The Doublespeak Award was created to recognize public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, and for his Jackson Square speech, we find George W. Bush a most worthy recipient for 2006.

No comments:

Post a Comment