TIME FOR A CRASH COURSE…. Fairly soon, we’re likely to see a lot less of John McCain’s controversial running mate.

Howard Fineman reported tonight (and I heard something similar) that Sarah Palin will, after a brief stretch on the trail, head back to Anchorage and away from the national media.

“They’re basically taking Palin back to Alaska,” said Fineman, citing a senior McCain campaign official.

Fineman’s source (and mine) said she’d spent much of the time between now and the middle of next week (when her son leaves for Iraq) straightening her affairs, tending to her official duties and packing her bags — having departed abruptly for the national stage. She also seems unlikely to do many major media interviews between now and then, and the campaign seems to feel no urgency about putting her on the Sunday shows.

The campaign will “also use the plane time and time on the ground to begin the education of Sarah Palin,” Fineman said. “They want to take that pause to train.”

NBC News’ Chuck Todd reported the same thing yesterday, saying Palin will “hole up in Alaska” and we “may not see her on the campaign trail for a little while.”

Election Day is in just 60 days. The conventions are over, Labor Day has come and gone, and the stretch run is underway. Now, however, it’s time to “pause to train”? It sounds like the campaign still has some serious concerns about Palin’s ability to answer questions about her readiness for national office.

Indeed, consider this report from Time’s Jay Carney yesterday:

According to Nicole Wallace of the McCain campaign, the American people don’t care whether Sarah Palin can answer specific questions about foreign and domestic policy. According to Wallace — in an appearance I did with her this morning on Joe Scarborough’s show — the American people will learn all they need to know (and all they deserve to know) from Palin’s scripted speeches and choreographed appearances on the campaign trail and in campaign ads.

This really isn’t a vote of confidence in Palin’s readiness.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.