I found a phrase ‘not a peep,’ in the Washington Post’s article (September 16) written by Eugene Robinson, which was captioned “Where are the compassionate conservatives?” In the article, Robinson describes the scene of Republican Presidential candidate, Ron Paul’s answering the moderator, Wolf Blitzer’s question at the Tea party debate held on September 12th:
“Wolf Blitzer asked Ron Paul a hypothetical question about a young man who elects not to purchase health insurance. The man has a medical crisis, goes into a coma and needs expensive care. “Who pays?” Blitzer asked.
“That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody. . . .”
Blitzer interrupted: “But Congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?”
There were enthusiastic shouts of “Yeah!” from the crowd. “You’d think one of the other candidates might jump in with a word about Christian kindness. Not a peep.”
What does “Not a peep” mean here? Does it mean “No sound, no voice”, or “No answer”? Does it mean the Congressman was unable to talk back even a single word, or other candidates zipperd their mouth, or audience who shouted 'Yes' in accord suddenly fell into silence?
I checked online dictionaries for the words. None of Cambridge, Merriam-Webster, or Urban dictionary has entry of “Not a peep.” I don't know why. Isn’t this an idiom, or just an abridgement of ‘There was no peep.”?