Based on a few e-mails I received, some Democrats were apparently upset over a portion of President Bush’s State of the Union speech last night in which he referred to the Democratic Party as the Democrat Party. Media Matters sums up the “controversy”:
During its post-speech coverage of President Bush’s State of the Union address on January 23, Fox News displayed an onscreen graphic that falsely claimed that, during the speech, Bush said: “I congratulate the Democratic majority” in Congress. In fact, while the prepared text of Bush’s speech reportedly did feature the phrase, “Democratic majority,” Bush actually congratulated what he called the “Democrat majority,” as the White House’s official transcript makes clear.
As Media Matters for America has repeatedly noted, the use of “Democrat” as an adjective is a slur that originated with Republican operatives. Republicans consistently refer to the “Democrat Party,” even though that is not what members of the Democratic Party call themselves, and use the noun “Democrat” as an adjective, which New Yorker magazine senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg identified as an attempt to deny the opposing party the claim to being “democratic,” or as Hertzberg wrote, “to deny the enemy the positive connotations of its chosen appellation.”
According to Hertzberg, in the early 1990s, the use of the word “Democrat” as an adjective became nearly universal among Republicans, apparently due largely to the urging of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-GA) and Republican pollster Frank Luntz.
I’ve got to admit that I’ve tried to understand why this would be a controversy, and I really just don’t get it. Whether “Democrat” is being used as a noun, an adjective or a participle (whatever that is), I don’t understand why this is an insult…or why it matters. If this is some sinister attempt to make the public think differently of Democrats, I don’t see how it would work; this is wayyy too nuanced for me, and I pay close attention to politics.
If you understand what makes this such an insult, I’d love to hear it.