Sarah Palin is interviewed by Greta Van Susteren on Fox News Channel. (Fox News Channel )
It required some reading between the lines, but Sarah Palin's Tuesday night appearance on Fox News, where she is a highly paid contributor, may not have come as good news to her supporters, who have been hoping for months that she will end their suspense and jump into the Republican presidential race.
In a conversation that touched on multiple political topics, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's apparent decision not to run for president, relations with Israel, the GOP presidential race as a reality show, Palin seemed to signal that she is more comfortable outside the confines of a political campaign – at least a Republican campaign.
And Palin, who has sometimes gotten tangled in her syntax, misspoke the first name of businessman Herman Cain five times as "Herb" when praising him for his surprise victory over former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and Texas Gov. Rick Perry in last weekend's Florida straw poll.
Palin, who has a knack for popping into the public eye just as Republican presidential candidates are making news, appeared on Fox the same evening Christie made a widely covered speech at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley.
She said she is still undecided about the race, but her musings seemed those of a person who mainly sees the downside of running.
"Is a title worth it?" she asked. "Does a title shackle a person? Are they someone like me, who's a maverick? You know, I do go rogue and I call it like I see it, and I don't mind stirring it up in order to get people to think and debate aggressively, and to find solutions to or the problems that our country is facing.
"Somebody like me -- is a title and is a campaign too shackling? Does that prohibit me from being out there, out of a box, not allowing handlers to shape me and to force my message to be what donors or what contributors or what political pundits want it to be? Does a title take away my freedom to call it like I see it and to effect positive change that we need in this country? ... You don't need a title to make a difference, truly."
After all, Palin was famously unhappy with her handlers as running mate of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain. And she reminded Fox host Greta Van Susteren, who lobbed her a series of softball questions in the nearly 15-minute segment, "In campaign mode, so often a candidate is -- certainly this is where I was in the VP campaign -- being molded, being shaped…being caricatured by those around you, which prohibits the freedom that one needs to really make a difference and influence and begin some aggressive debate that is needed."
If the country has learned anything about Palin in the last few years, it is that she rebels any time she feels her freedom is being prohibited, even going so far as to step down from the Alaska governor's office only 2 ½ years into her first term when she felt besieged by ethics complaints.
She used a trip to Israel in March, which included a meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as an example of how a private citizen can make a difference in foreign policy.
"Instead of just sitting back, throwing stones, writing on Facebook or Twitter about what I think…I took action," Palin said. "I had dinner with the prime minister and his family. We formed a good relationship there. …And I told him that we do support Israel, and if he were to hear or perceive that our government is kind of poking our ally in the eye, well, don't believe that that is the voice of the majority of the American people. We are their friend."
And though Palin's public behavior seems designed to keep people guessing about her next moves, she often bridles when pundits speculate about them.
Recently, she chastised another Fox contributor, Karl Rove, when he suggested that her schedule seemed like the schedule of a presidential candidate. And last night, she seemed irritated when Van Susteren mentioned that a fundraising appeal had been sent to Palin's donors saying that she was "on the verge of making a decision whether to run or not."
"Well, I don't know what went out to voters that said that," Palin said. (The letter was sent Sept. 20 by Tim Crawford, treasurer of SarahPAC, her political organization.)
Although Palin often critiques the media, she doesn't usually slam her own network. But Tuesday, she took aim at Fox.
"Earlier today ... you had a host who said 'Sarah Palin in the polls, she's way, way down there in the polls.' And I'm kind of scratching my head, going, wait a minute. On another network, on CNN just the other day, they showed a poll where I was, like, within 5 points of President Obama.... And I'm thinking all this misinformation and contradictory information, contradicting information from even hosts here on this network itself, it adds to, I guess, the disconnect even -- not just the permanent political class, but many in the media also because sometimes, they don't do their homework."
Last night, the pro-Palin website, Conservatives4Palin, had a post titled "Governor Palin: Is a title worth it?"
The item was short and to the point: "Hopefully, she'll conclude that the answer is yes."