To paraphrase from Seamus Mallon, "Brian Cowen is Michael Noonan for slow learners". Noonan had an established talent for marking his opposite spokesperson, a neat turn of phrase (read some of his budget rebuttals) and was very popular with the party stalwarts for his willingness to get stuck into people he was debating with. And yet for those same reasons he was the wrong person to lead Fine Gael when he came to the position. Bertie Ahern was the embodiment of the expression "trying to nail jelly to the wall", getting in close and making digs and punches did nothing for your side of the argument.
Noonan as a man wasn't as needlessly aggressive as Cowen can be but his appeal to the party footsoldiers was similar. People in political parties love someone who can take the hits for them and come back out fighting. Yet the floating, middle ground people who pay only superficial attention to politics are completely turned off by what they see as unnecessary antics.
I suspect that someone somewhere within FF will take Cowen off and attempt to do what they must have done to the Ceann Comhairle John O'Donoghue last summer and get him in touch with some Zen master. Otherwise, he is going to blow his top every other week.