Yesterday Frank Rich seemed to say that it is precisely because she is quitting (and is so much more "real" than other potential Republican stars out there) that she's qualified to run for the Republican nomination in 2012. I'm not totally sure that's the case. He points out that she's more popular among the GOP then ever these days.
What's most strange about Sarah Palin is that she, unlike other failed vice-presidential nominees, didn't fade into the background: she continues to live out loud in the news. Palin stories generate more hits than other political stories. People are, in some weird way, fascinated by her.
This is perhaps the root of the fascination. She's both successful at drawing attention and a mess at the same time. We can't wait to see what she will do next, certain it will be predictably more outrageous than the last thing.
I'm not one to gaze into the crystal ball, but I think we'll see Palin pop up every now and again. She'll continue to raise money for Republicans, especially among pro-life groups. But Palin's place on the public stage as an elected official is nearly over. This fact is perhaps best illustrated by a nugget found at the end of the Times story:
At the governor’s Anchorage office, staff members are struggling to roll with Ms. Palin’s surprise announcement. Last week, a clock on the wall continued its countdown. Under a “Time to Make a Difference” placard, the clock ticks away the days, hours, minutes and seconds until the scheduled end to Ms. Palin’s term. As of Friday, it had 513 days left.