Now It's OK

At Slate, Timothy Noah called it "thuggish".

At the New York Times, Paul Krugman deemed it an ominous warning.

And at that same paper, Frank Rich said it was an example of fear "being wielded as a weapon against Americans by their own government."

What was it? The words spoken by then-presidential press secretary, Ari Fleischer, on September 26, 2001. From the second link above, here's Krugman's characterization:

Americans, Ari Fleischer ominously warned, "need to watch what they say, watch what they do." Patriotic citizens were supposed to accept the administration's version of events, not ask awkward questions.
You might (dimly) remember that, because folks like Krugman, Noah, and Rich hyped the quote mercilessly for years afterward to demonstrate how the Bush administration was ushering us into a dark era of dissent-quashing, patriotism-questioning neo-McCarthyite repression.

[For a more honest analysis of Fleischer's words in context, see the essay by Christopher Hitchens in Slate.]

All that was brought to mind by this:

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs issued a pointed warning to opponents of Judge Sonia Sotomayor's Supreme Court nomination Wednesday, urging critics to measure their words carefully during a politically charged confirmation debate.

"I think it is probably important for anybody involved in this debate to be exceedingly careful with the way in which they've decided to describe different aspects of this impending confirmation," Gibbs said.

The comments of Krugman, et. al. are eagerly awaited. I strongly suspect they'll all run along the same theme: But that's different! Sure it is.

(Note: Instapundit is far more instant, having noted this yesterday.)

URLs du Jour


  • Local lad P. J. O'Rourke muses on the USA's descent into third-worldism:
    I don't mind America becoming a Third World country. The weather is better in the Third World than it is where I live in New Hampshire. And household help will be much cheaper. Does Carl Levin do windows? At my hacienda he won't have much choice. The troubled economy will soon be a thing of the past. Once we've got Third World-style full-blown business and government corruption, there won't be an economy. There will be, however, plenty of money after Beijing hauls away all our coal, oil, uranium, bourbon, and other natural resources that China lacks. Best of all, the GOP has a serious incentive to rebuild itself as a party and score some victories at the ballot box. Nothing motivates like "Win or Die."

  • Thomas Sowell says what needs to be said about the "empathy" of Judge Sonia Sotomayor:
    Nothing demonstrates the fatal dangers from judicial "empathy" more than Judge Sotomayor's decision in a 2008 case involving firemen who took an exam for promotion. After the racial mix of those who passed that test turned out to be predominantly white, with only a few blacks and Hispanics, the results were thrown out.

    When this action by the local civil-service authorities was taken to court and eventually reached the Second Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Sotomayor did not give the case even the courtesy of a spelling out of the issues. She backed those who threw out the test results. Apparently she didn't have "empathy" with those predominantly white males who had been cheated out of promotions they had earned.

    Obama campaigned on "hope and change", but what we're getting is perpetuation of the stale, failed policies of racial preference.

  • My alma mater has been given a "red light rating" by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for "maintaining policies that clearly and substantially restrict free expression on campus." You'd think they'd want to do better than certain other schools.

    For the record, I never got in trouble free-expressionwise back in my college days, even though I was much more obnoxious then.