His sincerity’s obvious from the tremor in his voice, which I take as fairly compelling evidence that she’s really not running for president. If she was and this was merely the start of an exciting new chapter, he wouldn’t sound so shaken, would he? Even so, he does put a happy-ish face on things near the end by saying this frees her up to focus on national issues; similarly, a GOP source tells CNN that he thinks she’s “mapping out a path to 2012.” But that presents a new problem: If this really is all motivated by weariness from the brutal attacks against her, where does that leave voters in terms of judging whether her skin’s thick enough to be president? Rick Brookhiser puts it brusquely: “If you can’t stand the cold, get out of Juneau.”

For what it’s worth, I’ve been hearing rumbling among the nutroots for months now that a major scandal was coming down the pike to torpedo Palin. I’ve never believed it and still don’t, but it’s marginally more credible today than it was yesterday so here’s the latest iteration. File it away for future reference or discard as you see fit.