Great drama, but irrelevant in terms of where we're at. Last week's pantomime from Fine Gael demonstrated a thing or two about politics, but means nothing as far as the country's prospects are concerned. Whether it was Richard Bruton or Enda Kenny who would lead the party into a general election would have no impact on policy, and probably less on the leadership thing.

Kenny apparently won the day after delivering a powerful speech at the parliamentary party confidence motion meeting on Thursday. The speech moved some to tears and may have had an influence on waverers.

Why are these brilliant oratory skills not deployed when he is speaking in the Dáil, or through the media? Are they a secret weapon only to be deployed among his own people? Ironically, one of the complaints about his media appearances is that he doesn't come across as authentic.

Beyond the realities of politics, there is a personal story of Kenny's elevation to a position where he is now odds-on favourite to become the new Taoiseach. Any challenge from within his own party has been nullified. Labour, despite opinion polls, doesn't have the organisation in place to elect more TDs than Fine Gael. The road is rising before Enda.

Whatever his shortcomings, it would have been a cruel fate had he been thrust into the wilderness at this stage. On a personal level, he has given up much in the last eight years to lead his people out of perdition.

In 2002, when he was appointed leader, Kenny's personal life changed dramatically. At the time his three children were aged nine, seven and five. Prior to that, he wasn't renowned for his work rate. He was 51, and had spent half of his adult life in the Dáil, rising without trace. Then, suddenly, he was thrust into overdrive, and the other elements of his life had to take a back seat.

Weekends were no longer his own. Holidays had to be fitted around his schedule. Instead of being able to focus on routine family rituals, his station demanded that he concentrate on the grit of the road to power. It's all the lot of any party leader, but in Kenny's case the task at hand required far more of himself. His party was in rag order.

Commuting across the breadth of the country from Castlebar to Dublin was one thing. As leader of a party on its knees, he was required to visit every nook and cranny in the state on an ongoing basis. From the beginning, he brought his biggest attribute to the job. He was the Duracell bunny personified.

His energy, natural good humour and organisational ability lifted the stricken tribe. One long-standing party member had observed a few leaders come and go. He saw Kenny make the most of his stamina.

"If you look at somebody like Michael Noonan, who has plenty of attributes in other areas. When Noonan [as leader] arrived at functions after long journeys, he was often listless and tired, quite understandably so. Not Enda. He'd bounce into the place and gee up everybody. He was extremely good-humoured."

On his first countrywide tour in June 2002, one of the highlights was the stop at the Green Isle Hotel in Dublin, the same venue where last Tuesday morning the inept plotters attempted to hatch his downfall. On that evening, he declared to the gathering of 400 party members, "for the 25,000 members and for the 25,000 that are going to join, we want a sense of excitement for them". He received a rapturous reception but for anybody observing from the sidelines, it was difficult to take seriously the notion that he would make Fine Gael the biggest party in the state. Where is the party now?

There followed years of slog. One wag noted last week that while Kenny was attending to the faithful on winter nights, in draughty halls on the periphery of the island, Richard Bruton was at home in Clontarf with his wife, indulging his passion for baking.

The slog paid off. Fine Gael managed to root out all the latent votes which had gone missing during the party's war years. In every election during Kenny's tenure, the party increased its number of seats, at local, national and European level.

Through it all, Kenny managed to accentuate his positive characteristics, and minimise those that bounced around the public square like large question marks. But as power drew closer, the questions began to loom larger. Why does he look so stiff on TV? Why can't he method-act anger like Eamon Gilmore? Does he know his sums?

He was always tougher than his image portrayed, and it was on that attribute he called once a challenge was laid down. After all he had sacrificed in the last eight years, he was never going to go quietly.

Now the public knows he can be as tough as nails when his power is threatened, but would he be as assured if leader of the country? He showed that he could think on his feet – a lot faster than his opponents – in a tactical battle, but his media and Dáil pronouncements look completely rehearsed, as if any deviation from the script will leave him gasping for air. And he still has the issues issue. The impression lingers that he can't get his head around the detail of any complicated policy.

Yet, despite it all, weaknesses that in normal times would be a handicap are relatively small obstacles today.

The public want to give Fianna Fáil a thrashing. Kenny is the only alternative Taoiseach, bar the onset of meltdown in the party, and a freakish haul of seats for Labour in the next election.

Great drama, but irrelevant in terms of where we're at.