In my last post forecasting how the Republican nomination race might unfold, I once again articulated my expectation that Fred might break out in time to win the upcoming Southern primaries in South Carolina and Florida. But I also admitted my worry that I might be waiting for a broken-down bus.

The irony has not escaped me that I am predicting Hillary in the Democratic canvass, on the strength of her superior organization, while I look for Fred Thompson to somehow prevail in the GOP race completely lacking that same attribute.

Why? Too long an answer for this brief post, but in a nutshell: the GOP is a heart and soul party (more so than the Dems). And the GOP field in this particular cycle is so flawed (politically) that almost anything is possible.

But tonight is an important night. As we saw in the Democratic debate in Philadelphia almost a month ago, we are definitely at the stage of the campaign in which these events matter--just ask Hillary. Tonight's CNN-YouTube debate may very well set the tone for news coverage during the next month--depending on what transpires.

All that to say, if Fred is for real, he probably needs to show us something on TV this evening. Either he needs to break through a bit, or, barring that, he needs to stand visibly rock steady while one of his important rivals stumbles.