Good news for Jeb Bush in Wednesday night's debate is that he finally coughed up some energy. Bad news is based on past performance, it very well may be the high-water mark of the campaign for him.
Also unfortunate for him is that his veritable eruption of energy was overshadowed by cascading fireworks of energy put on by Carly Fiorina.
She burned so hot at several points during the debate that she fully eclipsed the un-eclipsable Donald Trump.
Her ferocious attack on Planned Parenthood and the undercover videos revealing top executives casually discussing the slaughtering of human fetuses to be sold was a moment that seemed to shock everybody on stage.
With singular moral authority, she reminded all that "this is about the character of our nation."
And when she spoke forcefully about the heart-wrenching loss of her daughter to drug addiction, it was a stunning slap in the face for those so-called conservatives who so cavalierly mock and ridicule laws aimed at making illicit drugs unacceptable in our society.
She also proved herself the toughest in the field at going toe-to-toe against Donald Trump. When Mr. Trump allowed that Mrs. Fiorina is a "beautiful woman," it marked the first moment in this entire campaign that he has actually backed down from a comment he has made.
And the fiery daggers she shot back at him in silence showed she was not accepting his offering of charm.
Finally, someone has manned up enough to give Mr. Trump a fight.
Still, the biggest non-winner last night remains Jeb!
He showed enough energy that even Donald Trump had to note, off-handedly, that Jeb! was displaying "more energy tonight."
And then commented: "I like that." It was a compliment, but at the same time utterly devastating.
It doesn't help that Jeb! seems to think it is somehow funny and energetic to make jokes about how his Secret Service name should be "Eveready." Like the battery. Get it? Energy?
In one explosive stand-off between Mr. Trump and Jeb!, the two men began talking over one another and Jeb! declared, "No! I'm gonna finish!"
Mr. Trump kept talking and finished his point and then allowed Jeb the floor. "Go ahead," he commanded.
Nobody knows better than Mr. Trump how to use a stage and a lectern and a microphone to dismiss his opponent. The way he leans down to bark one-word comments about someone else who is trying to be taken seriously, it is truly devastating.
And all the while Donald Trump stands there, framed all night by the giant "A" in the "AMERICA" painted along the side of Ronald Reagan's Air Force One.
• Charles Hurt can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter via @charleshurt.