Submitted for your approval and/or skepticism. Either she’s not the backbiter Kristol, Frum, et al. insist she is or else she’s a particularly brazen liar, willing to slobber over Palin for the Today show audience while spitting venom at her off the record. Or, third option: She saw Palin’s GOP approval ratings at Rasmussen this morning, realized that criticizing her now qualifies as a sin against conservatism, and decided at the last minute she’d best use her time with Lauer to make nice. Mission accomplished, in that case.

Meanwhile, Randy Scheunemann once again rides to the ‘Cuda’s defense:

One top McCain aide came to Palin’s defense today. Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, who helped prepare Palin for her vice presidential debate, praised Palin’s campaign effort and intelligence.

“I’ve been working over 20 years in Washington and I’ve been around literally dozens and dozens of politicians. She is among the smartest, toughest, most capable politicians I’ve ever dealt with,” Scheunemann said. “She has a photographic memory.”

But the tension between the Palin camp and other GOP groups is likely to continue or get worse. Lawyers for the Republican National Committee are heading to Alaska to try to account for all the money that was spent on clothing, jewelry and luggage, according to The New York Times.

I sense some people have the impression that Scheunemann is an old friend of/aide to Palin and that’s why he’s defending her. Not so: He’s been a D.C. lobbyist for years and was a foreign-policy advisor to McCain before she joined the ticket. As far as I know, they hadn’t met before she came aboard. To believe she’s a moron, you have to explain why a guy like him — with no longstanding loyalty to motivate him and with his credibility inside Washington on the line — would defend her so assiduously if what he says isn’t true. Palin-haters and Trig Truthers will point to those Rasmussen numbers and claim it’s because he wants a role in her next campaign, but he could have just as easily said nothing about her, good or bad, and still been lined up for that (especially since he’s reportedly pals with Kristol, who’ll probably be one of her biggest champions in the media for 2012). Instead, he went to such lengths to protect her reputation that he nearly got himself fired from the campaign and alienated powerful people within Team Maverick in the process. That’s a long way to go for a “moron.”

Update: David Frum notes that Chris Wallace is defending Nicolle:

I just heard Chris Wallace on the Mike Gallagher show insisting that Nicole Wallace (no relation) is innocent and that my speculations above are completely wrong. I have a lot of trust in Chris. But if (as he implies) he does affirmatively know who is doing this leaking – should he not tell his viewers? What kind of game are we playing whereby people with potentially self-serving motives can place such lethal (but not 100% credible) stories on the public record – unproven, unchallenged, and unsourced, while the people who broadcast the allegations connive in concealing the information that would allow listeners to decide for themselves how credible the allegations are?