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Until recently, attracting Republicans has never been a problem for Huffington. She has been a fixture in G.O.P. circles for a decade or more. Born and reared in Greece, she attended Cambridge University, became president of the Cambridge Union debating team and wrote several well-received books before moving to the U.S. in the 1980s. She married Texas oil millionaire Michael Huffington and helped guide his political career, which ended spectacularly after one term in Congress when he spent $30 million of his own money unsuccessfully running for U.S. Senator from California in 1994. Her career flourished out of the ashes of his: Arianna became a regular on TV gab shows, founded her own think tank (now defunct), launched a syndicated column and settled in as a close adviser to Gingrich, who was busily undertaking a revolution of his own.
Soon she divorced her husband--and, figuratively anyway, Gingrich too. "It became clear to me that Newt didn't care about the issues I cared about," she says now, "that all his talk, sometimes very eloquent, about poverty and caring for the least among us was just window dressing." She abandoned Washington for Los Angeles, where she shares an Italianate mansion with her two preteen daughters. She is impatient with her old Republican friends who say she has moved to the left (those old categories again). "I have become radicalized, but it's not as though I'm suddenly praising the Democratic Party. Both parties are equally bankrupt, equally at fault."
If it sounds a little vague--well, that's how movements often begin. No one should underestimate Huffington's powers as a publicist for the causes she champions. Says Wallis, a veteran of radical politics: "We've waited years for someone like her." Her enthusiasms are worth taking seriously. "She doesn't so much evolve as have incarnations," says an old colleague. And the incarnations are invariably suited to the politico-sociological moment. She has an unerring sense for the next big thing. In the early 1970s, she wrote one of the first anti-feminist manifestos--The Female Woman, a counterpoint to Germaine Greer's The Female Eunuch--anticipating the backlash against feminism before there was a hint of it. Her next book, After Reason, called for a commingling of politics and religion just as American evangelicals roused themselves from decades of political apathy. During the era of Reaganite glitz, she settled into the life of a New York author-socialite, the celebrity biographer of Maria Callas and Pablo Picasso. When the Gingrich revolution seemed a far-fetched pipe dream, she signed on as Madame Defarge, and had the sense to decamp when it collapsed.