09/15/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

The Divider


She has no office.

She has no official power.

Yet what she wrote is the talk of politics, causing crowds to rise up and shout out loud, with everyone from cable hosts to pundits to the President of the United States answering her "death panels" charge.

She may be a quitter, but it's good to be Sarah Palin.

That's because while the politicians are running around trying to do their job and be heard above the town hall brawlers, she weighed in on the most important issue facing this country and changed the debate with a Facebook post. Proving that dumping the governorship wasn't all madness. Her victory lap on "death panels":

I join millions of Americans in expressing appreciation for the Senate Finance Committee's decision to remove the provision in the pending health care bill that authorizes end-of-life consultations (Section 1233 of HR 3200). It's gratifying that the voice of the people is getting through to Congress; however, that provision was not the only disturbing detail in this legislation; it was just one of the more obvious ones.

As I noted in my statement last week, nationalized health care inevitably leads to rationing. There is simply no way to cover everyone and hold down the costs at the same time. The rationing system proposed by one of President Obama's key health care advisors is particularly disturbing. I'm speaking of the "Complete Lives System" advocated by Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, the brother of the president's chief of staff. ... ..

Making fun of Sarah Palin is political sport, but seriously, how'd the Democrats allow this to happen? We begin a debate about health care reform only to wind up with Sarah Palin, of all people, writing the script. Rick Perlstein has a good point.

In purely political terms, the unleashing of "death panels" is the Republican shot that awoke the right. It also drove Pres. Obama to address it in his town hall, with Democrats repeating the phrase everywhere, laughing at it while trying to rebut it. It stuck anyway.

Keith Olbermann reduced Eugene Robinson to reading the full quote of his article last night on his show, because Palin had truncated it.

Tell me why everyone's running around responding to Palin's Facebook page? Because what she's hoisting into the ether is so potentially damaging they have to. That's how upside down everything is at this point.

In a Rovian turn of political cynicism, Palin blasted on Facebook one of the most divisively offensive statements that could be made in a health care debate, writing about "death panels" and implying that Trig, her son with Down Syndrome", would have to stand before one. The gargantuan nerve it takes to launch a lie so ludicrously unbelievable reveals such heinous disregard for reality and facts you've got to wonder if she's sane.

But then you watch the unraveling, the unleashing of the fury in the town halls we witnessed from Specter to McCaskill and beyond, wondering what spell was weaved over an already agitated American right wing who upon hearing "death panels" with "euthanasia" on top came completely unglued.

She took to Facebook a couple of days ago to push harder on "death panels", taking her argument straight at Pres. Obama.

The New York Times is running a story about who started the rumor and the roots of it. No one should be surprised the same actors were around during the Clinton days, but the fact that American Spectator magazine and Betsy McCaughey, former New York Attorney General, an opponent of Hillarycare as well, is at the center hardly matters amidst the noise. McCaughey's July article "Deadly Doctor", on Rahm Emanuel's father, cynically uses health care cost savings to scare the crap out of seniors. No one ever said Palin was in this alone.

The New York Times scolds critics of Dr. Emanuel saying...

But Dr. Emanuel's paper does not quite say what Ms. Palin claims it does. Rather, it is an exploration of how scarce resources - like organs or vaccines during a pandemic - can be morally allocated when not enough resources are available.

Sober analysis that hardly comforts, which is why Palin's pack sees a target.

The bit player in all this, Chuck Grassley, told an audience that he had to stay involved long enough so that the grass roots could organize, get on TV and make their stand. He said that if he hadn't stayed in the debate in Washington there would have been a health care bill in June. Serving as a double agent while spinning bipartisan baloney, Obama buying in regardless, Grassley now says the end-of-life counseling is out in the Senate, as far as he's concerned, which as is shown in Palin's latest Facebook post, she takes as her win.

Howard Dean made a good case on "Countdown" that Grassley doesn't decide and Republicans are digging themselves a hole, which others also believe. I'm not so sure.

A person everyone has judged isn't national office material managed to cause a ruckus and change the dynamics of debate, getting Pres. Obama to respond to what she'd unleashed in writing that ricocheted across America. Palin forcing the President to answer her, because she's backed by thousands and thousands of the furious loaded for bear with grievances.

All of this because of what was written by a woman who doesn't hold office or any spot of power and doesn't care about dividing America, because in the world from where she hails Sarah Palin already sees America divided. It's also in her interest to keep it that way.

For that matter, the only hope Republicans have is division and defeating anything Obama that now is symbolized, at least for them, by "death panels," which has less to do with health care and actual "death panels" than it does the intrusion of government in our lives, that old standard of the right rising from the ashes.

All this started by a woman who can't be president. Of course, she doesn't know she can't be president. But for now it doesn't really matter. She's the star of her own "death panel" realty show. And it's a huge hit.

- Taylor Marsh, with podcasts available on ITunes.

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