The thought hadn’t occurred to me but as soon as I saw the headline I knew where they were going with it. The ‘Cuda has two great (and related) political gifts acknowledged even by her big media detractors: A knack for the populist gesture and an unusual deftness in triangulating between Democrats and Republicans. Together with her bio they form the three pillars of her ordinary gal/outsider persona. If McCain wins, she’ll be VP of a country not normally inclined to give the same party more than two terms in the White House, let alone the four the GOP would need if she were to succeed McCain as an heir apparent.

What’s an ambitious maverick to do then? Hmmmmmm.

Savvy readers [of her biography] might find cause for concern in Palin’s burning ambition, her ruthlessness or her complete lack of loyalty to political patrons. One sensible reason for Sen. Barack Obama’s not choosing rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton as his running mate was the real worry that she would undermine and run against him. Palin has already done that to her patrons — twice…

Palin was encouraged to run for a City Council seat in Wasilla, Alaska, in 1992 by council member Nick Carney and was warmly welcomed into office by then-Mayor John Stein. Within months of taking office, she had voted against a pay hike for Stein and against a mandatory garbage collection ordinance that would have greatly enriched Carney. Four years later, Palin unseated Stein…

The scandals Palin helped prod along [while an appointee of Gov. Frank Murkowski’s administration] badly damaged the Murkowski administration. She ran against the governor in the 2006 GOP primary, easily finishing him off.

Palin had her reasons but the pattern is clear. She is invited in by well-established pols, doesn’t get her way and ends up running against the “good old boys” and defeating them handily. Would she do the same against McCain four years from now if he decides to run for reelection?

The base already loves her more than it ever has or ever will love McCain, and the center-left would thrill to her wandering off the reservation with some sort of truth-to-power shtick about how her conscience will no longer allow her to support McCain policy X, Y, or Z. They already disagree about one major issue where she’s on the right side of public opinion and he isn’t; there’s another one, even bigger than ANWR, out there for the taking if she’ll only seize it. Mix in a little Huckabee-style economic populism and she’d be the insurgent New Republican, the Change candidate, running not as a fourth term of the old GOP but as a first term of the new one. Exit question: Just the wild musings of a blogger who lives for political drama, or can we get a little Palinmania excitement going for this idea? Probably just a pipe dream given how the GOP establishment has always frowned upon disloyalty within the party. Remember the last time a sitting Republican president was challenged by someone on his own side? Whatever happened to that guy anyway?