I've studiously avoided the argument between Joshua Green and Andrew Sullivan about Sarah Palin. Josh believes that Palin is a harmless, if demagogic, publicity and fame hound. Sullivan believes that Palin is a nefarious genius who intends to run for president. Somewhere in the middle of all this is a position I also abstain from, which is that Palin is brilliant, period.
Enigmatic and interesting, I'll give her that. Today, Palin gives ammo to all three interpretations. She's decided to endorse Carly Fiorina in the contested Republican Senate primary in California. Whaa? Shouldn't she have endorsed Chuck DeVore's bid? DeVore is a Tea Party conservative; he was one before the term existed.
Well, it's kind of simple. DeVore is almost certainly going to lose. And more self-identified Tea Partiers back Fiorina, despite what one might assume from looking at the race. Fiorina's spending-cuts message resonates among these voters.
In the long-term, Palin might just have found a wealthy new friend who will be Senator from California and in a position to endorse her in a presidential primary. But there's no shortage of reasons to think that Palin simply decided to pick the person who best represented the values held by her constituency. And that, according to these folks themselves, is Carly Fiorina.
If you're inclined to see Palin as a genius, either an evil one or a nice one, you'd argue that she's endorsing Fiorina because she wants a combined ticket of moderates (Meg W., Carly F.) to lose the gubernatorial and Senate races, thereby further angering California Republicans, driving them to the right, preventing Mitt Romney from having an endorser (Whitman) as governor, and leaving them hungry for a conservative:Palin. Somehow, this theory also extends to preventing other conservatives from getting endorsements in states like California. This theory has been proposed to me, and I must say, it tangles a few synapses.
I'd prefer the shorter, simpler explanation: Palin wants to a pick a winner, she wants to go where her supporters are, and she might simply just enjoy Fiorina's sparking personality.
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is a former contributing editor at The Atlantic