By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 30, 2007
President Bush says the missing "-ic" in the State of the Union address was nothing more than an oversight.
Near the beginning of the speech last week, Bush congratulated "the Democrat majority" for its electoral victory, using a long-standing Republican formulation seen by many Democrats as a calculated insult. Some liberal bloggers and party strategists saw the president's omission of the last two letters of the party's proper name, Democratic, as a sign of insincerity in preaching bipartisanship.
Nothing of the sort, Bush said in an interview yesterday with National Public Radio's Juan Williams.
"That was an oversight," said Bush, who frequently uses the formulation. "I mean, I'm not trying to needle. Look, I went into the hall saying we can work together, and I was very sincere about it. I didn't even know I did it."
Bush also said he "didn't mean to be putting fingernails on the board," while noting that the parties need to work together on addressing problems with the Social Security system. "I am surprised, frankly, at the amount of distrust that exists in this town," the president said. "And I'm sorry it's the case, and I'll work hard to try to elevate it. So the idea that somehow I was trying to needle the Democrats, it's just -- gosh, it's probably Texas. Who knows what it is? But I'm not that good at pronouncing words anyway."
White House press secretary Tony Snow seemed peeved with reporters asking about the Bush mispronunciation at his morning press "gaggle" yesterday, accusing the reporters of making "three mountains out of a molehill" and suggesting that the press was not much interested when Democrats bashed Bush with language calling him a "loser" or a "liar."
"This looks like an exercise of looking for a fence rather than looking for a way to work together," Snow said. "There was no intentional slight of anyone."
For now, Democrats are standing down.
Brendan Daly, spokesman for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), said, "We certainly take the president at his word." The normally garrulous Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said he had no comment.