Palin feels the force of a new critic – Barbara Bush

The Republican Party establishment is still in confusion over how to deal with the unorthodox power and popularity of Sarah Palin, but everyone appears to agree that it is too dangerous to be rude about her. Everyone that is, except Barbara Bush, former first lady and grande dame of the Bush family.

"I sat next to her once; thought she was beautiful," Mrs Bush told interviewer Larry King. Then delivered her blow. "I think she's very happy in Alaska, and I hope she'll stay there."

Ms Palin's will-she, won't-she tease regarding a presidential run in 2012 is still the hottest topic in domestic politics in the US, and she remains one of the hottest political and media properties. Promoting her forthcoming book last week, the former Alaska governor and vice-presidential candidate declared she would be able to beat President Barack Obama in an election. Meanwhile, a reality TV show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, was airing its second instalment last night after garnering five million viewers the previous week.

The Republican establishment is yet uncertain whether Ms Palin is a threat or a ticket to the White House. Although she has become the godmother of the Tea Party movement that energised Republican and disillusioned independent voters at the midterm elections this month, there was only mixed success for some of her favoured candidates.

Bobby Jindal, the Republican Louisiana governor was grilled on NBC's Meet the Press yesterday he agreed Ms Palin could make a "compelling case" for president.

Ms Palin quit halfway through her first term as governor of Alaska to concentrate on a media career and on national politics.