The suspicion is that Palin either didn’t do her homework on Fiorina – who favours a “cap and trade” energy reform bill and is considered insufficiently robust against abortion – or is indulging in old fashioned, Washington-style back-scratching.

Only now are Palin’s admirers picking up on the contradictions and opportunism that have been evident from early on to her detractors.

Palin decries federal government spending but as a state governor lapped it up (as almost all of them do). She attacked “big government” healthcare reform but accepts free care for her grandson, an entitlement received only because her husband Todd is one quarter native Alaskan.

A supposed warrior against political correctness, she upbraided Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, for using the word “retard” as an insult, saying it was deeply offensive to her and Trig, her Down’s Syndrome son. Indeed it may have been. But when Rush Limbaugh, the talk radio supremo whom no Republican dares contradict, then committed the same offence, she remained silent.

An ostensibly staunch defender of the US constitution, Palin last week said that US law should be based on “the God of the Bible and the Ten Commandments”.