PALIN’S PROBLEMS…. Oddly enough, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was not only in over her head on the national stage, she’s also struggling in Alaska.

A couple of weeks before the Alaska legislature began this year’s session, a bipartisan group of state senators on a retreat a few hours from here invited Gov. Sarah Palin to join them. Accompanied by a retinue of advisers, she took a seat at one end of a conference table and listened passively as Gary Stevens, the president of the Alaska Senate, a former college history professor and a low-key Republican with a reputation for congeniality, expressed delight at her presence.

Would the governor, a smiling Stevens asked, like to share some of her plans and proposals for the coming legislative session?

Palin looked around the room and paused, according to several senators present. “I feel like you guys are always trying to put me on the spot,” she said finally, as the room became silent.

Gone was the self-assurance that Alaska had come to know in its young Republican governor, well before her life and career were transformed by Sen. John McCain’s selection of her as his vice presidential running mate. “She looked ill at ease, more defensive than we’ve been accustomed to seeing her,” said one legislator who was there and spoke on the condition of anonymity because he said he might need to work with Palin.

The governor, apparently, isn’t having any fun anymore.

It’s hard to say with any certainty what Palin’s plans are for the future, but she seems anxious to maintain a national profile — she created a leadership PAC, she’s on Fox News, she made an Alfalfa dinner appearance, she’s weighing in on Republican primary contests far outside Alaska, etc. Jason Zengerle suggests Palin, if she’s serious about seeking national office, should “give up her position as partisan firebrand, focus her attentions on being Alaska’s governor, remake herself as more of a pragmatic executive (which, prior to the ’08 campaign, is what many thought she was), and then return to national politics.”

In other words, Palin would be more credible if she demonstrated a capacity to take government seriously for a while. Somehow, that seems highly unlikely.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

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.