by Max Brantley
If he wanted to, President Bush could change the tone in Washington with a single syllable: He could just say "ic." That is, he could stop referring to the opposition as the "Democrat Party" and call the other side, as it prefers, the Democratic Party. ...
Democrat Party was used, pardon the phrase, liberally by Wisconsin Sen. Joseph McCarthy. According to the Columbia Guide to Standard American English, " Democrat as an adjective is still sometimes used by some twentieth-century Republicans as a campaign tool but was used with particular virulence" by McCarthy, "who sought by repeatedly calling it the Democrat party to deny it any possible benefit of the suggestion that it might also be democratic." The word also achieved a prominent run with Bob Dole's especially ugly reference to "Democrat wars" during the 1976 vice presidential debate.
But Democrat-as-epithet has seen its fullest flowering -- on talk radio, among congressional leaders and, more than with any of his predecessors, from the president himself -- during the recent Republican heyday. As Hendrik Hertzberg pointed out in the New Yorker in August, the conservative Web site NewsMax.com takes pains to scrub Associated Press copy "to de-'ic' references" to the party.
Arkansas Republicans delight in employing this calculated insult. Trivial, but tacky.