AP omitted Bush's track record in use of “Democrat” smear

A January 29 Associated Press article by Ben Feller reported President Bush's claim during an interview that his use of the word “Democrat” as an adjective during his January 23 State of the Union address, when he congratulated the new “Democrat majority,” was an “oversight.” But like a January 30 New York Times article on the same subject noted by Media Matters for America, the AP ignored Bush's frequent use of the word “Democrat” as an adjective -- an oft-used Republican slur.

Unlike the Times, the AP article noted that Bush deviated from the prepared text of the speech and that Republicans, such as former President Reagan, have a history of using the slur, but the AP did not note Bush's own history of using the term. In contrast to the AP article, a January 31 article in The Hill noted Bush has used “Democrat” as an adjective at least 10 times since November 7, 2006:

The president has a habit of muffing the Democratic Party's chosen name -- one that he hasn't kicked since he called for bipartisan unity after his party's defeat in the midterm elections.

A quick search on the White House website yields at least 10 instances in which Bush used “Democrat” as an adjective since Nov. 7.

For example, on the morning after Election Day, he declared, “It is clear the Democrat Party had a good night last night, and I congratulate them on their victories. This morning I spoke with Republican and Democrat leadership in the House and Senate.”

The Hill article also noted that while “many Republicans deny that they are intentionally insulting the other party,” others do not. In the article, Shannon Flaherty, communications director to former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), defended the practice. The article quoted her stating, “A gathering of Democrats is the Democrat Party, and a gathering of Republicans is called the Republican Party.” Flaherty also asserted that the Democrats' “incessant whining and attempts to adjective-ize their identity is another way to fool people into associating democratic principles with the modern Democrat Party.” She continued, “Looks like our refusal to adopt their self-absorbed political syntax is giving them a post-election identity crisis.”

The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have also both noted Bush's history of using the slur, as Media Matters has documented. In a January 30 article, The Washington Post noted that Bush “frequently uses the formulation” and the Los Angeles Times, in a January 30 article, noted “Bush's usage of the term increased dramatically last year; according to the American Presidency Project, based at UC Santa Barbara, the president was recorded using the term 22 times in 2006 -- more than in the previous five years of his presidency combined.” Blogger and media critic Greg Sargent chronicled six instances in which Bush used “Democrat” as an adjective, four of which took place as he stumped for Republicans before the 2006 midterm elections. The Los Angeles Times article also noted that “experts on political locution say it's a deliberate, if ungrammatical, linguistic strategy.”

At the end of Feller's article, the AP documented an instance of the Bush administration, but not Bush himself, using the slur. It noted “Bush plans to speak to the House Democratic Caucus at its conference this weekend in Virginia. On the president's schedule, that event is referred to as the 'House Democrat Conference.' ” The New York Times noted in a January 30 article that the administration subsequently changed its schedule to read “Democratic conference.”

From a January 29 Associated Press article:

This one has gotten a little ic-ky for the White House. President Bush said Monday he wasn't trying to disparage the party now running Congress by referring to it as the “Democrat majority,” as opposed to the “Democratic majority,” in his State of the Union speech.

“That was an oversight,” Bush said in an interview with National Public Radio. “I mean, I'm not trying to needle.”

Bush's dropping of the “ic” at the end of the word prompted grumbling by Democrats that he purposely got their name wrong.

This is not a new charge. President Reagan used to refer to the “Democrat Party.” Democratic leaders have long considered it demeaning when their suffix is omitted, and some of them figured it was no accident in a speech as highly choreographed and rehearsed as Bush's State of the Union.

Bush said he wasn't even aware that he had done it.

“I meant to be saying, why don't we show the American people we can actually work together?” Bush said.

The verbal shot came in the same breath as the president was congratulating Democrats for winning the House and Senate in the November election.

In the language the president was supposed to read, the reference was “Democratic,” not “Democrat.”


The next chapter will come this weekend.

Bush plans to speak to the House Democratic Caucus at its conference this weekend in Virginia.

On the president's schedule, that event is referred to as the “House Democrat Conference.”