We interrupt your regularly scheduled politics for another moment brought to you by Sarah Palin.
Palin is set to dominate yet another week. Her unique blend of celebrity, media, pop culture, and -- yes -- political engagement is again delivering near-ubiquity that's all the more remarkable for the fact that she does not actually hold any public office -- and that she's coming off of an election cycle with an endorsement record that's spotty at best.
That aside, the cable program about her family is setting records for TLC. Her daughter is a finalist on the TV sensation "Dancing with the Stars," complete with some controversy over the power of her mom's celebrity.
The former governor's second book, "America by Heart," is due to be released this week, complete with a book tour designed for yet another best-seller, and some well-crafted shout-outs for the tea party crowd.
Of course, Palin tweets all the while, driving debate over items as varied as tax cuts, cookie ingredients and airport security screening in bursts of 140 characters or less.
In short, it's just another week in Palin nation. And once again, the Republican establishment is left simultaneously fascinated by and dreading the GOP's biggest star.
Former first lady Barbara Bush was channeling that establishment with her characteristic frankness when CNN's Larry King asked an innocuous question, seeking her "read" on Palin.
"I sat next to her once, thought she was beautiful. And I think she's very happy in Alaska -- and I hope she'll stay there," Bush said.
But the point is that she isn't staying in Alaska, not in any meaningful sense. Palin is a bigger national sensation than she was even as vice presidential nominee in 2008, and her every maneuver casts a shadow on the slowly emerging field for 2012.
In the year and a half since she defied well-wishers' advice and left her job as Alaska's governor, Palin has become a best-selling author; a millionaire many times over; a frequent, high-impact guest on the nation's top-rated cable news channel; a force in the reality-show world; a world-class Twitter and Facebook user; and perhaps the top irritant to Democratic and Republican office-holders alike.
Even if this wasn't a result of a grand plan -- and close advisers insist that it wasn't -- it leaves Palin as the dominant force in Republican politics at a time when the GOP is set to take over control of the House, and a host of eager and experienced politicians start putting muscle into presidential operations.
Just a few words to ABC's Barbara Walters -- "I believe so," Palin said, when asked whether she could beat President Obama in 2012 -- most likely garnered more attention than the accumulated efforts of all the other potential challengers for the GOP nomination this month.
This fact is, of course, of no small annoyance to the deep bench of Republicans who have built resumes and records that set them up for this moment of a wide-open nomination season.
Palin stands separate from other potential 2012 candidates, freed of most traditional obligations and expectations, since she's made a habit of defying conventional wisdom.