Assuming there is no scandal shoe about to drop, to understand what Gov. Sarah Palin is doing, we ought to begin by taking her at her word. I readily admit that her statement today wasn't terribly clear, which is quite telling itself: she doesn't quite know why she is doing what she's doing, ALL CAPS notwithstanding. She can't explain it to herself, and so she certainly can't explain it to others. But it's not that complicated to get the gist: she's "not retreating," she's advancing. Palin, in Alaska, is a sitting duck for the people and forces she believes are ruining the country. She can't fight back -- she can't protect her family, her values, her worldview -- while she's governor. At the same time, her desire, perhaps conscious, perhaps not, to get into the mix -- to be invited to the fancy Washington dinners, to be courted by these very forces -- is irresistably pulling her towards the very fight she seeks.
Don't make the mistake of assuming that Palin has a grand strategy that relies on subterfuge, prestidigitation or rhetorical concealment. She has few close advisers, and she is prone to ignore their advice. She keeps her own counsel. She believes what she says (and implies): that she is a national political figure, that her destiny (and I think she capitalizes the D) is in the continental 48, that her personal characteristics are mocked by the elite because the elite cannot understand them, that her family and children are subject to relentless, negative and highly damaging personal attacks, and that there is no longer a place for her in the Alaska government.