Byron York's column today argues that despite an emerging media meme, Republican voters really aren't especially dissatisfied with their party's current field of presidential candidates. Whether he's right is a debatable proposition, but I'd counter that it's at least somewhat instructive that two noted non-candidates swiped the political spotlight last night. Just after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie performed an elaborate political fan dance in California, former Governor of Alaska Sarah Palin joined Greta Van Susteren on Fox News to discuss the state of the race. She didn't make any news, per se, but she did openly muse that a presidential campaign -- or even the presidency itself -- could prove unduly inhibiting for a maverick who relishes the freedom to speak her mind. This portion of the discussion begins around the nine-minute mark. Is this a subtle hint that she's not really serious about jumping into the race?
“Is a title worth it? Does a title shackle a person? Are they someone like me who’s maverick? I do go rogue and I call it like I see it and I don’t mind stirring it up in order to get people to think and debate aggressively. Is a title and a campaign too shackle-y?"
Earlier in the discussion, Palin analyzed the recent resurgence of Herman Cain, whom she labeled "the flavor of the week." She also repeatedly called him, um, "Herb:"
In May, Palin said she had the "fire in the belly" to run for president -- the same metaphorical fire that Christie says he lacks. Did last night's comments indicate that those flames have abated? Some people are certainly interpreting her remarks that way, suggesting that she's tacitly acknowledged that she can be more successful and influential as a fundraiser and truth-telling gadfly than as an official candidate. I'm not sure I share that interpretation, but I've also given up trying to predict what Palin will or won't do. Either way, she'd better make up her mind soon. The 2012 nominating process is on the verge of jumping into warp speed, especially if Florida pulls a rumored calendar stunt. Whether Byron York is right about the mood of the GOP electorate remains to be seen. What's increasingly clear, though, is that the race remains fluid and volatile. To wit, guess who's leading a new poll in Iowa, a state in which he conspicuously hasn't competed? Surprise.