This is another take on the old "Are they stupid or crazy" debate. For example, here's former Senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, on the use of the term "middle class."
"Don't use the term the other side uses. What does Barack Obama talk about all the time? The middle class," he said at a fundraiser hosted by the Lyon County GOP. "Since when in America do we have classes? Since when in America are people stuck in areas or defined places called a class? That's Marxism talk.
"When Republicans get up and talk about middle class, we're buying into their rhetoric of dividing America. Stop it. There's no class in America. Call them on it."
I truly don't think Santorum is stupid (although he may be of less than average intelligence), nor is he crazy. He knows as well as your or I do that using the term "middle class" is not "Marxism talk," but only that some people use the term in a way he dislikes.
It's like when Orson Scott Card starts saying that Obama is planning to recruit a police force from among the ranks of Angry, Unemployed Roving Gangs of Negro Youths (AURGNY) to serve as his personal bodyguard and palace janissaries. It's not like he actually believes it's true in, you know, the three dimensional world. It's just stuff he likes to think about, and riff on.
For Sen. Santorum and Mr. O.S. Card, such tropes as these bear the same relationship to reality as pornography does to masturbation. Everyone knows the images of people in porn videos and photo spreads aren't real, but there are still many who enjoy looking at them, and pretending they are.