UNEMPLOYED HALF-TERM GOVERNOR HIRED BY FOX NEWS…. Sarah Palin inexplicably walked away from her job last year, quitting as Alaska’s governor half-way through her first term. It presented a minor problem for the often-confused right-wing politician — what, exactly, would she do with herself between her resignation and her presidential campaign?

Sure, posting stuff to Facebook can be fun, but it’s generally not the stuff of national leaders. She would need some kind of job to occupy her time for the next few years. She could consider academia, and pursue a teaching gig, but I think most fair observers would agree this isn’t especially realistic given her … shall we say … skill set. Palin could go to a conservative think tank, writing and researching areas of public policy that are of particular interest, but that would probably necessitate some kind of intellectual curiosity.

What to do, what to do. Here’s a thought: how about Palin joining the Fox News Channel as an on-air contributor?

The network confirmed that Ms. Palin will appear on the network’s programming on a regular basis as part of a multi-year deal. Financial terms were not disclosed.

Ms. Palin will not have her own regular program, one person familiar with the deal said, though she will host an occasional series that will run on the network from time to time. This person would not elaborate, but the network does have a precedent for such a series. Oliver L. North is the host of an occasionally running documentary series on the military called “War Stories.”

Many suspected that when Ms. Palin retired as the governor of Alaska last summer she was doing so to pursue some sort of career in television. The Fox News deal, however, would not seem to be all encompassing, and would appear to give her room for other pursuits, as well.

If you pass by Fox News HQ, you can probably hear Mike Huckabee sobbing just a little, saying, “Wait, I’m the one who’s supposed to use Fox News as a platform to launch a far-right presidential campaign.”

Palin’s deal makes considerable sense. It’s awful for the public discourse, but it’s great for the relevant players — Palin wants money and a platform; the Republican network wants a politician its partisan audience loves. It’s a match made in … well, somewhere unpleasant.

In some ways, the former half-term governor’s new role will be exceedingly similar to the one she’s maintained since leaving office. Instead of sharing her fact-free “thoughts” on a social-networking website, Palin can share her ideas on a cable network without any pushback at all. Getting back to a very sharp post Dave Weigel wrote a few weeks ago, this new role gives Palin a chance to inject her beliefs into the public debate without actually engaging in the public debate.

In other words, both Facebook-contributor Palin and Fox News-contributor Palin will receive the same treatment and have the same opportunity. Either way, she won’t be subjecting herself to questions or scrutiny that might make her uncomfortable. The big differences are a larger audience and a bigger paycheck. The only remaining question is what took so long to complete this obvious deal.

Steve Benen

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.