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On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told the Washington Post that “some of our members may have thought the default issue was a hostage you might take a chance at shooting.” He added that initially, “most of us [Republicans] didn’t think that,” but “what we did learn is this — it’s a hostage that’s worth ransoming.”

The remark comes two days after Vice President Joe Biden accused the Tea Party of having “acted like terrorists” during the debt ceiling negotiations. Biden’s accusation prompted howls of protest from conservatives. Michele Bachmann tried to turn it into a fundraising opportunity. “I am offended by Vice President Biden’s irresponsible words and need your immediate support to defend myself and fellow Tea Party members right away,” she said in an email to supporters. Sarah Palin, meanwhile, joked that “if we were real domestic terrorists, shoot, President Obama would be wanting to pal around with us,” referencing the President’s friendship with William Ayers.

The precedent set — the full faith and credit of the United States is a bargaining chip in terrorism-style negotiations over the fate of the U.S. economy — is an ominous one.

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