Several hundred years from now the career and public life of Sarah Palin will be summed up with two statements made 24 hours apart:
August 7th: "The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s 'death panel' so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their 'level of productivity in society,' whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil."
August 8th: "There are many disturbing details in the current bill that Washington is trying to rush through Congress, but we must stick to a discussion of the issues and not get sidetracked by tactics that can be accused of leading to intimidation or harassment. Such tactics diminish our nation's civil discourse which we need now more than ever because the fine print in this outrageous health care proposal must be understood clearly and not get lost in conscientious voters' passion to want to make elected officials hear what we are saying. Let's not give the proponents of nationalized health care any reason to criticize us."
The logic is flawless: make an unsubstantiated, inflammatory statement about "Obama's Death Panels" and then appeal for civility and calm. As I have said literally hundreds of times regarding the rhetoric of right wingers over the years, one of two things must be true here. Either Palin does not understand that her statements make no sense collectively and utterly lack thematic consistency, i.e. she is stupid, or she understands exactly what she is doing, i.e. she is a sociopath.
This was consistently the case with George W. Bush, and I frequently responded to his supporters by asking them to pick one. Is he an idiot who doesn't understand what phony intelligence and bad decision-making look like or is he a liar with an agenda and no regard for the consequences of his actions? The explanation proffered – it was an innocent mistake made with the best of intentions by people who were fooled (and who wasn't?) by highly credible intelligence – simply defies plausability. Similarly, in Palin's case we are expected to believe that she is interested in having a civil debate based on the merit of ideas while riling up the idiocracy with dire warnings, warnings which mouthbreathers near and far will unquestioningly accept as fact while hand-loading their own rifle ammunition in their basements, that the President's plan is a carbon copy of the Nazi T-4 euthanasia program. Even Trig wouldn't buy that.
While a lot of these people are probably morons, I lean more toward the "asshole psychopaths" explanation. People like Palin and Beck and Limbaugh know exactly what they're doing. They're pushing their violent, asocial followers over the edge and periodically issuing phony, ass-covering pleas to Keep Things Civil and Don't Do Anything Violent. And when some unhinged asshole decides he needs to kill his Congressman or take a few dozen shots at the President to keep him from instituting his "death panels," Palin and Beck will be the first to say "Well, gosh! We certaintly don't condone that, nor did we intend for it to happen!"
That hordes of deluded, screaming idiots are "almost lynching" members of Congress is hilarious to the GOP. When they finally get their wish, we know from the multiple "violent right wing shut-in arms himself to the teeth and dies in the midst of a killing spree" incidents since Obama's victory that Beck, Instarube, Palin, and the rest of these mentally unstable demagogues will not only defer responsibility but work to place it on the victims.