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