So, the rollout of Sarah Palin's book has led to a flurry of speculation about whether she will someday run for President. That conversation, in itself, is evidence of how little the American political media listens to what it's saying.
Palin is an unpopular politician who badly botched her Vice-Presidential run. But on the other hand, she badly botched her Vice-Presidential run and is unpopular. She will never make a serious run for the White House, because she can't.
Is she running? Or just cashing in on the media ride? The answer, of course is both and neither. Palin's job is now Potential Presidential Candidate. Her media value depends on the perception that she may be running. It is in the media's direct interest to keep her valuable, so that Sarah-related stories and interviews get lots of lucrative attention. Naturally, they encourage the speculation that she's a candidate. And that's in Palin's interest, too, because she profits directly from that media value.
Palin is going to make a lot of money for as long as the press treats her like a serious political player. But her ability to command top prices ends the moment it becomes clear that she isn't running for President. It also ends if she actually runs.
If Palin runs, she will cease to be a potential contender and become just another defeated candidate. Her national stature will vanish. And after she gets drubbed at the polls, her standard speaking fee will plummet. She'll still be highly paid, but not at anything like the rates she currently demands; you don't get a $5 million book deal after you've been humiliated in New Hampshire.
Maybe Palin understands this consciously, and maybe she does not. (For the record, I believe that Sarah Palin is crazy like a fox. A delirious, rabies-maddened fox.) But she has a window of opportunity in which to build a large personal fortune. The amount of money she makes while that window is open will probably determine her lifetime wealth. When she runs for President, or refuses to run, the window will close. So it's time for her to make her money now.