If the timeline of last night’s clusterfark doesn’t convince you this is one of the weirdest ends to a candidacy in modern political history, maybe this will: I count no fewer than seven theories floated in the past 24 hours for why she quit.

1. She was worried about Teddy.
2. She was pushed out by Teddy because he wants his wife to inherit his own Senate seat and was worried about Kennedy overload.
3. She didn’t want to disrupt her family by moving to D.C.
4. She decided she never really wanted it.
5. She felt guilty that Paterson was being strong-armed into picking her.
6. She found out Paterson wasn’t going to pick her and wanted to get the drop on him.
7. She “became aware of a personal situation that was occurring,” perhaps as recently as within the last two days.

Theories one through five are nonsense; if any were true, she’d have dropped out long ago, not two days before Paterson announced his choice. In fact, Teddy’s camp is reportedly irate that his illness was initially given as the reason since it makes him look like an invalid when he’s trying to push universal health care through Congress. Six and seven are plausible, especially since even some of her closest aides evidently didn’t know what was up. Late-breaking this afternoon from the Post comes word that Princess might have had some Geithner trouble of her own — among other things:

“She has a tax problem that came up in the vetting and a potential nanny issue,” the soruce said. “And reporters are starting to look at her marriage more closely,” the soruce continued, refusing to provide any specifics.

Gossip columns have reported for more than a year that Kennedy’s marriage to Ed Schlossberg is essentially over, and the gossip site Gawker.com has reported rumors that she’s been linked to New York Times publisher Arthur Sulzberger.

Kennedy denied any issue over her marriage in an interview with The Post last month…

Several sources said the governor, who has sole power to replace Clinton, was unimpressed with how the daughter of John F. Kennedy handled media interviews and private sessions with various officials.

Three sources said Paterson had conveyed to Kennedy on Tuesday that she wasn’t likely to get picked. She, too, was at Obama’s inauguration, but kept a very low profile.

Just as I’m writing this, the NYT is out with its own report confirming the tax/nanny angle. Paterson’s spinning it as evidence that he never intended to pick her but the Times says it’s a lie and that the job was all but hers until this happened. That jibes with previous reports of other contenders grumbling that she was a sure thing and Obama’s own people telling reporters that they preferred her. Three obvious exit questions, then: (1) Why didn’t they catch this earlier in the vetting? (2) Did Paterson’s people discover it or did one of the other candidates dig it up as oppo research and drop it on Caroline at the last minute? (3) Given that Geithner’s about to sail through the Senate on his way to Treasury notwithstanding his own tax cheating, why didn’t she tough it out and play this off as a similar “common mistake”? Either we’re talking about a large tax problem here or, maybe, she concluded that voters might tolerate greed from a lowly bureaucrat like him but wouldn’t stomach it coming from America’s most privileged Princess. Which, if true, would mean that her family name actually hurt her in the end. Irony of ironies.

Update: This reminds me of Edwards running for the Democratic nomination knowing that the Rielle Hunter time bomb would eventually go off. What if he had won? Where would that have left the party? Same with Caroline. Assuming she knew about the nanny, was she planning to keep mum until Paterson announced her as the pick so that he was stuck with her?