It seems that liberal bloggers -- Benen, Yglesias are confused by the latest (at least so far) mini-flap from Sarah Palin. Palin is explaining her "death panels" remark by claiming (here and here) that "death panels" isn't literal, just as Reagan's term "evil empire" wasn't literal.
Here's David Weigel:
No; if a student gave me a paper with that sort of wording, I'd let her know that "literal" doesn't mean what she thinks it does. Palin apparently believes that "literal" means something like "formally titled." Palin: "...had [Reagan] been criticized and, and mocked, and, and condemned for ever using a term that wasn't actually there on a map, or in documents..."
I can’t make heads or tails of Sarah Palin’s analysis of her “death panels” remark in the lengthy, friendly Q&A she gave to National Review yesterday...Which part of “evil empire” was not literal? This seems like an instance of Palin’s incessant references to Ronald Reagan leading her astray.
Palin either believes or is pretending to believe that the criticisms of "death panels" are just that those specific words do not appear in the health care bill, just as the only possible criticism of "evil empire" would have been that the nation was formally called the USSR. It does not seem to have occurred to her (or she is pretending that she doesn't realize) that anyone could doubt that the health care bill will have the effect of "committees, bureaucrats -- deciding who, ultimately, will receive government-run health care... based on somebody's subjective judgment of productivity, of somebody's life." It does not seems to have occurred to her that what was discredited was that underlying description, not the question over the title of a proposed government agency.
Granted, this interpretation isn't exactly generous to Palin, but at least it allows the statement (which is clearly part of her prepared talking points, since she's used it at least twice) to be moderately coherent.