Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin (R) shared her unique insights on economic policy on Fox News this morning.

“It’s very noble of President Obama to want to stay at the helm and maybe go down with this sinking ship,” she said. “I prefer and many Americans prefer that we start plugging the hole, that we start powering up the bilge pump, and start getting rid of this unsustainable debt that is sinking our ship.

“We don’t have to go the way of the Titanic,” Palin added. “There are things that have to be put in place before the ship sinks. We don’t have to keep going down the road that we are going on today.”

A couple of things. First, the United States is not a “sinking ship.” If a prominent liberal talked like this, he or she would be accused of disloyalty and a lack of patriotism. Whatever happened to all that “exceptionalism” talk the right was so fond of?

Second, just once I’d like to hear a Republican explain why he/she thinks the national debt — a non-issue when Bush/Cheney took the debt from $5 trillion to over $10 trillion — is the driving factor for “sinking our ship.” (And just once, I’d like to hear a Sunday show host actually ask.)

Is it possible to move beyond shallow, surface-level talking points on this? With Palin, probably not, but perhaps with other conservatives? They think the debt is responsible for the weak economy. Fine. It’s not that they’ve given up on caring about creating jobs and generating growth; it’s just that they think it’s the debt that’s standing in the way.

What I’m dying to know is why in the world they believe this. When budget shortfalls undermine the economy, we see higher interest rates and higher inflation. In 2011, we have neither. GOP officials talk a lot about private investment being “crowded out” by the public sector, but that, again, refers to a dynamic in which government spending and borrowing leads to higher interest rates. Right now, interest rates can’t get any lower.

It’s such a simple question: why would debt reduction — taking money out of the economy — make the economy stronger?

Why would forcing thousands of public-sector workers into unemployment make the unemployment rate go down? Why would the private sector expand when there’s less economic demand?

I know Palin can’t answer any of these questions, and I know Fox News’ Chris Wallace isn’t inclined to ask her. But there’s a big party filled with conservatives who are putting our future at risk because of a belief no one in the party seems willing or able to defend.

It’s a little frustrating.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.