The pundits are wrong. Conventional wisdom is wrong. Sarah Palin's decision to step down as Alaska governor was a brilliant move.
Palin has some of the best political instincts I have ever seen. She became a pop-culture superstar overnight when John McCain made her his veep pick, and she's still second only to President Obama among politicians the public is interested in. Even in liberal San Francisco, she'd be front-page news if she ever came to town.
But that kind of celebrity comes at a high price. What a lot of people don't know is that Palin entered Alaska politics as a reformer attacking the corruption of the state's Republican establishment. As such, she was the darling of the Democrats - until she hooked up with McCain.
After the election, with Palin back home but positioning herself for a 2012 presidential run, it was clear she would catch nothing but ridicule from Alaska's Democrats. It was not going to be pretty.
If Palin wants to play on the national field, she has to be free to move around. She has to be able to drop into Indiana, Ohio or Tennessee and help Republican candidates raise money. She has to be available for radio and TV.
She has to be like Gavin Newsom, free to roam around the country, safe in the knowledge that things will pretty much take care of themselves back home. Instead, Palin faced the prospect of being constantly pinned down in a state that is a day and a half away from the rest of America. She would have been totally isolated in every sense of the word.
The pundits call her a quitter, but let's be honest - the pundits never liked her to begin with. Better to take one hit for stepping down and move on than to stay in Alaska and die a death by a thousand cuts.
Governor or not, Palin is still the biggest political star in the galaxy. After all, who else do we have?