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 tothe 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.
So Reagan wasn't really saying the USSR was an 'evil empire', he was just being overly dramatic so people would think about and research the Soviet Union, which no one knew much about or paid much attention to in the '80s, and discover for themselves how, err, not-evil it was.
Is that about the jist of it, Sarah?