Palin Digs In On Death Panels, Also Calls For Primary Against Lindsey Graham

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November 18, 2009 7:22 a.m.

In an interview with National Review, Sarah Palin explained how “death panels” are not meant to be taken literally — and then gave a pretty much literal description — and also called for a Republican primary challenge against Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

On death panels:

“To me, while reading that section of the bill, it became so evident that there would be a panel of bureaucrats who would decide on levels of health care, decide on those who are worthy or not worthy of receiving some government-controlled coverage,” she explains. “Since health care would have to be rationed if it were promised to everyone, it would therefore lead to harm for many individuals not able to receive the government care. That leads, of course, to death.”

“The term I used to describe the panel making these decisions should not be taken literally,” says Palin. The phrase is “a lot like when President Reagan used to refer to the Soviet Union as the ‘evil empire.’ He got his point across. He got people thinking and researching what he was talking about. It was quite effective. Same thing with the ‘death panels.’ I would characterize them like that again, in a heartbeat.”

There are two problems here. As Dave Weigel notes, Reagan was not speaking figuratively about the Soviet Union — they were an empire, and they were evil. But beyond that, Palin gives a literal description of a panel of bureaucrats deciding that some people won’t be worthy of getting any health care.As for the idea of a primary against Lindsey Graham, who was just re-elected in 2008 and will face voters again in 2014:

How about in South Carolina, where McCain buddy Lindsey Graham has angered conservatives with his various apostasies? “What I love about the Republican party is how we invite — or at least we should be inviting — healthy competition in our primaries,” says Palin. “It makes every candidate more candid, more truthful, and really wear their positions and their values on their sleeve.”

“As for Lindsey, individually, I really like him,” she says. “His constituents may want to send him a message to say ‘shore it up’ and come back to some more commonsense, conservative ideals.”

Graham’s spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.

Late Update: Graham’s office declined to comment.

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