…Charlie Cook has put his finger on it:

So assuming Palin would not seek re-election in 2010, what value would she get from spending the next 18 months as a lame-duck governor, having to contend with a recalcitrant state legislature that already has shown little interest in making her look good, while trying to lay the groundwork for a national campaign?

She has already punched her ticket as governor; would she really get that many more “experience points” for sticking around Juneau, if it meant missing a lot of gripping and grinning at Lincoln Day dinners and other state and local party functions, or headlining fundraising events for Republican candidates?

… Finally, it appears that Sarah and Todd Palin are not people of great wealth, and it’s a decent bet that they would have little income during 2011 and 2012, with the two of them campaigning full time. My hunch is that — to the extent that she could bank some serious change over the next year and a half by speaking, writing a book or what have you — it would make their lives easier in 2011 and 2012.

Many pundits had considered Palin virtually MIA since the election. Her absence from the rubber-chicken circuit, though, has been down to nothing more than the sheer distance between Alaska and the rest of the country. Now she can capitalize on all the invitations — to politick as well as to pick up fat checks — that she had to turn down previously.

But come on — Palin’s fans may approve, and her critics would snipe whatever she did, but how does this read to a neutral voter? She’s cutting out on her responsibilities once they cease to be politically advantageous for her, all so she can make money and campaign for higher office. Then again, neutral voters aren’t paying the slightest attention to any of this. But her resignation is one more indication that she’s less interested in politics as way of accomplishing anything than in getting elected for the sake of being someone — like in a beauty pageant or a popularity contest.