Poor George W. Bush misspoke during his State of the Union speech, somehow managing to mispronounce the “Democratic Party” as the “Democrat Party.” Although those awful liberal bloggers immediately jumped to the conclusion this was a calculated insult, The Great Decider himself has now assured us nothing could be further from the truth.
President Bush says the missing “-ic” in the State of the Union address was nothing more than an oversight.
Near the beginning of the speech last week, Bush congratulated “the Democrat majority” for its electoral victory, using a long-standing Republican formulation seen by many Democrats as a calculated insult. Some liberal bloggers and party strategists saw the president’s omission of the last two letters of the party’s proper name, Democratic, as a sign of insincerity in preaching bipartisanship.
Nothing of the sort, Bush said in an interview yesterday with National Public Radio’s Juan Williams.
“That was an oversight,” said Bush, who frequently uses the formulation. “I mean, I’m not trying to needle. Look, I went into the hall saying we can work together, and I was very sincere about it. I didn’t even know I did it.”
It’s a funny thing about oversights though — especially the insulting ones — how often the very same people keep making the same ones over and over again. In this instance, for example, I was about 7.2 seconds into a Google search on the topic when I came upon this New Yorker ”The Talk of the Town” comment, from July/August of last year, by Hendrik Hertzberg:
Last week, the gnat was buzzing at a high altitude. An e-mail from none other than “President George W. Bush,” arriving last Monday morning in millions of in-boxes, hinted strongly at where the Commander-in-Chief stands on the name issue. To wit:
The Democrat Party has a clear record when it comes to taxes.
Nothing threatens our hard-won reforms and economic prosperity more than a Democrat victory this November.
The difference is clear: if you want the government in your pocket, vote Democrat.
It’s a great piece, as Hertzberg’s stuff usually is: It even includes a nice history of how this deliberately insulting mangling of the Democratic Party’s name came into common usage among Republicans. (Hint: It has a lot to do with Joe McCarthy.)
Here’s how Herzberg ends the comment:
In days gone by, the anti-“ic” tic tended to be reined in at the Presidential level. Ronald Reagan never used it in polite company, and George Bush père was too well brought up to use the truncated version of the out party’s name more than sparingly. Not so Bush fils—and not just in e-mails sent to the Party faithful, which he obviously never reads, let alone writes. “It’s time for the leadership in the Democrat Party to start laying out ideas,” he said a few weeks ago, using his own personal mouth. “The Democrat Party showed its true colors during the tax debate,” he said a few months before that. “Nobody from the Democrat Party has actually stood up and called for actually getting rid of the terrorist surveillance program,” he said a week before that. What he meant is anybody’s guess, but his bad manners were impossible to miss. Hard as it is to believe from this distance in time, George W. Bush came to office promising to “change the tone.” That he has certainly done. But, as with so much else, it hasn’t worked out quite the way he promised.
So it would seem that Bush’s use of Democrat Party has been a tad more chronic than the small “oversight” he claimed. But then, the fact that George W. Bush is both a habitual and a graceless liar is neither a new discovery, nor the point of this post.
No, my point is this: It’s time for Democrats to draw a line in the sand over this misuse of the party name. I was born in 1955 and became interested in politics in 1968; that’s almost 40 years ago. And during that entire time I’ve been forced to watch Republicans (and increasingly members of the media) use this insult, while, more often than not, Democratic officeholders have simply ignored it.
And to be honest, I’m sick of it. So, yes, of course, we have got bigger fish to fry. But if Democrats aren’t willing to standup for themselves in the face of this sort of childish attack, how can anyone expect them to standup for anything else?