Sunday, May 18, 2008

'A democrat Israel'

Here's today's weird bit of political disfluency: George Bush, discussing his hopes for the Middle East peace process, as heard on NPR this morning:

"I strongly support a two-state solution: a democratic Palestine based on law and justice that will live with peace and security alongside a democrat Israel."

Whee! Remember the little flap around the time of the '07 State of the Union -- Bush's reference to the "Democrat majority"? It seemed that the chief executive had been caught doing something that's usually left up to the Ministry of Truth and its private-sector allies: a pejorative shortening of "Democratic Party" to "Democrat Party." Things weren't quite that clear-cut. According to the AP, for example, Bush had misread his prepared text, which said "Democratic majority," and we're kind of left guessing about who said what and why (here's a Language Log discussion, with links, of some of the grammatical and pragmatic issues).

So what does today's example mean? Bush tends to stumble when reading a speech? (We've known that, and most of us are lucky we don't have to hear recordings of ourselves bumbling through presentations.) Or Bush has somehow managed to completely internalize that little swap -- so it makes as much to substitute "democrat" for "democratic" (having characteristics of democracy) as to substitute "Democrat" for "Democratic" (the first name of the demonized party)?

There's plenty of NPR silliness to bemoan in passing. Bush might have intended to advance the peace process, but the hed -- "Bush speech advances peace process" -- mistakes the alleged intent for the deed. He might have tried to "rebut" criticism, but to "refute" it requires something more -- evidence, for one. And the country he is thought to favor, of course, is not "Iran."

But the star of the show is "democrat Israel." Any insights on that would be welcome.


Blogger The Ridger, FCD said...

Geez. If he favors Iran, I'd hate to see countries he doesn't like...

9:06 PM, May 18, 2008  
Blogger fev said...

Yes. I'm thinking only Tom Lehrer can save us now.

10:53 PM, May 18, 2008  

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