Hilzoy gets at this stuff better than I could.
First, from the Fox report she cites:
As supporters shouted out “Socialist!” at the mention of Barack Obama’s name Sarah Palin clearly laid out the analogy without mentioning it outright—even comparing his economic plan to other countries “where people are not free.”
Classic. Put the image in people's heads -- I don't know which countries Palin is talking about, but the blanks get filled in so damned easily, don't they? -- without taking responsibility for it (so that you can backpedal later by saying: "I never meant Stalin, or Hitler" (or whoever)).
Unlike Palin, Hilzoy is specific:
I would really like to know what Sarah Palin thinks is an appropriate use of the government's power to tax. Maybe she is opposed to all taxes, and regards even those taxes required to provide for the national defense as confiscation or theft. Or maybe she thinks there's something sacrosanct about the levels of taxation we have now -- that all the money the government now takes is money it can take legitimately, without engaging in theft or redistribution, but any increase in taxes counts as socialist confiscation, and anyone who advocates such changes shows that s/he believes that all our property is owned collectively. That would explain why she thinks that while Bush's tax cuts did not count as redistributing wealth in favor of the rich, repealing those tax cuts on people making over $250,000 a year counts as redistributing wealth in favor of the remaining 95% of the population. But it would also be an idiotic thing to believe.
Look: socialism is a word that has a meaning. It means public control of the means of production. It does not mean taxing the top bracket at 39%. Likewise, "collective ownership" has a meaning, and it does not mean the situation that obtains when the government can repeal tax cuts for the top 5% of the population.
I assume that if Sarah Palin had a decent argument against Obama's policies, she'd make it. Trying to cast Obama as a socialist is just laughable -- almost as laughable as the idea that this line of attack will appeal to anyone outside the Republican Party's lunatic fringe.
Like Larry David, I can't wait for this shit to be over.