I think Palin’s best bet is to win election to the Senate. That would be a way to burnish her credentials. It might also give her an opportunity to improve her public image. She might follow in the footsteps of Harry Truman – who was thought to be the “Senator from Pendergast” until he made a name for himself going after wartime waste and corruption from his perch as the chairman of the Special Committee Investigating National Defense. The problem for Palin, of course, is that her first shot at that job is not until 2014. She won’t challenge Lisa Murkowski, which means that a run against Mark Begich in five years would be her first opportunity.
We’ll see what she does, but I think it would be a real stretch for her to run for the presidency in 2012. I think she has enormous political talent, and that she was treated unfairly last cycle (though that’s the breaks in politics!) – but I just don’t think she’s well-positioned for a run next cycle.