The "Ic" Factor

George Bush, new master of the verbal putdown?

The liberal media is eager to think President Bush is prone to verbal gaffes and mistakes - but whenBush says "Democrat Party" instead of "Democratic Party," it's no mere flub, buta Bush suddenly capable of making subtle verbal digs at the opposition.

The Times' Jim Rutenberg remains hypersensitive to this tic in his segment for the paper's weekly Political Action column, "No Offense, but..."

"President Bush says he had no intention of offending members of the other party when he said in his State of the Union address, 'I congratulate the Democrat majority.' In an interview yesterday, Juan Williams of NPR asked Mr. Bush about dropping the 'ic,' something the president does regularly, to the intense annoyance of many Democrats.

"'The idea that somehow I was trying to needle the Democrats, it's just - gosh - it's probably Texas,' he said. 'Who knows what it is. But I'm not that good at pronouncing words anyway.'

"Last weekend, Mr. Bush put his bipartisan spirit on display, right there on the schedule distributed by the White House: 'The president makes remarks to the House Democrat Conference.'

"But late yesterday a new version of the schedule was released. 'Democratic conference,' it said."

Rutenberg also mentioned the "ic" in an August 23 story on Bush: "In calling the opposition the 'Democrat Party' Mr. Bush was repeating a truncated, incorrect version of the party's name that some Democrats have called a slight , an assertion the White House dismissed as ridiculous."