Fred 'Red Bull' Thompson arrived on stage tonight in the South Carolina debates on Fox News and banished 'Ambien' Fred Thompson into the sleepy shadows.
And not a moment too late.
The conventional wisdown is that if FDT doesn't make a strong first or second place finish in South Carolina, he's toast, which I mostly agree with.
But tonight he was cogent, funny, sarcastic (which I personally like very much in a candidate) and dead-on with the issues. People are paying close attention now, so all the yak-yak about Fred being lazy, Fred isn't interested in winning, Fred this, Fred that, looks to be more about media insider stuff than his actual campaign.
As a passionate conservative, I must say that most of the candidates tonight acquited themselves well. Except for Crazy Ron Paul. But even he dressed himself in more respectable Republican clothing than past debates.
I was happily shocked when Frank Luntz, the GOP pollster who was conducting live focus group polling during the debate, asked the 28 participants who they had the least interest in going into the televised proceedings. Thompson was number one.
Luntz then asked who actually won the debate, and nearly the entire room raised their hands.
I was particularly gratified that Fox News spent a lot of time questioning the candidates about the American reaction to the Iranian speedboats buzzing our Navy in the Straight of Hormuz, because my column at WorldNetDaily.com on Friday deals with this very issue. If we don't respond to the aggression of the Iranian Navy, we will find ourselves in the same humiliating position as the British, with 14 Naval personnel held hostage.
Thompson's response was something to the effect that if the Iranians mess with our guys, they are going to meet up with the 72 virgins they so adore sooner, rather than later.
I switched off the TV when the candidates began their spin of their own performance, which is never helpful to me in making up my mind.
If the Fred Thompson who appeared on TV tonight is the man who will lead our country into our future, which is alternately bright and scary, then count me among those who are aboard the FredHead Express.
8:11 p.m. PST