In a chat at washingtonpost.com today, Michael Fletcher makes an unwitting but very revealing comment sprining from President Bush’s (latest) use of “Democrat Party” to refer to the Democratic Party:
Toronto, Canada: Is using “Democrat Party” instead of “Democratic Party” dog-whistle language aimed at the Republic, I mean Republican base?
Michael Fletcher: Funny. I find that whole controversy amusing. But it really does get some people riled up.
The controversy is “amusing” to Fletcher, the observer from on high, though it does get “some people” (people, presumably, not as mannered as Fletcher – dirty fucking hippies perhaps) riled up. Haha, a great laugh.
As Hendrik Hertzberg detailed last year,
“Democrat Party” is a slur, or intended to be—a handy way to express contempt. Aesthetic judgments are subjective, of course, but “Democrat Party” is jarring verging on ugly. It fairly screams “rat.”
Luntz, who road-tested the adjectival use of “Democrat” with a focus group in 2001, has concluded that the only people who really dislike it are highly partisan adherents of the—how you say?—Democratic Party. “Those two letters actually do matter,” Luntz said the other day. He added that he recently finished writing a book—it’s entitled “Words That Work”—and has been diligently going through the galley proofs taking out the hundreds of “ic”s that his copy editor, one of those partisan Dems, had stuck in.”
This is no mystery. “Democrat Party” is, as Hertzberg says, a slur intended to inflame Democrats. And it does. These are the facts, the facts of modern American political discourse: Republicans do many things intended primarily to annoy Democrats. Fletcher, a political reporter at one of the United States’ most prominent and influential newspapers (one that conservatives still assail as part of the “liberal media“), finds this personally “amusing”, the corrollary to which is that it is inconsequential – nothing to truly be concerned with – blown out of all proportion – by “some people.” Those people being Democrats, whose proper role in Fletcher’s universe is, presumably, to sit by and be insulted by Republicans while the news media laughs.