Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004  

Put up or shut up

The most potent metaphors seem to arise spontaneously. Yesterday I quoted a Cincinnati Post editorial that told Bush to "put up or shut up" on the Iraq/al Qaida link. Today it's Dionne:

If the administration has told us the truth, it should be willing to make public all it knows about the links between Saddam Hussein, al Qaeda and Sept. 11, and not just tantalize us with selective leaks. Tom Kean, the Republican chairman of the Sept. 11 commission, made that request over the weekend, saying he and his colleagues needed any new information "pretty fast."

The Bush administration should give us the proof or stop making claims it can't support. Put up or shut up.

The phrase is potent because it highlights the two central character flaws of the Bush administration--its mendacity and secrecy. Bush has adopted a "trust me" approach to governance. Trust me: if we shift your tax dollars from services benefiting the majority to kickbacks benefiting the wealthy, you will prosper. Trust me: if we adopt this new Medicare proposal that shifts your tax dollars to the coffers of the pharmacorps, you will have cheaper prescriptions. Trust me: if I allow industrial plants to pollute more, the skies will become cleaner. Trust me: if we invade Iraq, you will be protected from al Qaida. Trust me: if we invade, Iraq's torture chambers will be closed forever.

And he was given a pass. America did trust; the press did trust. America gave its trust because it believed the White House wouldn't lie. It gave its trust even though, when pushed mildly to provide evidence for its claims, the administration refused.

So "put up or shut up" has now emerged, spontaneously, as the retort. (More. Capital Times: "The commission should not back down. The vice president should be asked, politely but firmly, to put up or shut up.") While it's being used in the context of the current lying and stonewalling, I can envision a myriad opportunities to exhort the Bushies to put up or shut up. As a rallying cry, you could do worse.

posted by Jeff | 9:26 AM |
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