The result of the election in Alabama yesterday caused a general sigh of relief in most of the country outside the Beltway, but for the current leadership of the Republican Party, it's probably the worst possible outcome.
We rank-and-file Republicans -- I still count myself as a member of that embarrassed band -- have long known that the party has been hijacked by angry libertarians. I'd say most of us have reacted by tut-tutting, more or less openly, and by quietly voting for Democrats more often; I know that's been my response, being not really politically involved. But the loss of what should have been a sure Republican senate seat points up the scruples of much of the party leadership. To be sure, there were those, like Mitch McConnell, who initially criticised the party's candidate. That small clique of Republicans can at least claim to have some fundamental principles in line with the mainstream of America.
But too many -- far, far too many -- Republican office-holders in this political stageplay have demonstrated that, for them, power is everything. No sin is too reprehensible for these people to overlook where even a bit of political control is available.
Had the Party organization reacted to the (thoroughly believable) allegations against its candidate in a proper way, even at the cost of a senate seat, it would have come out of the election with a shred of integrity intact. Instead, taking its cue from the angriest people who, cynically, claim the mantle of Republicanism, the Party rallied 'round the flag-cloaked sleaze produced by that angry crowd, and lost. And now it has neither senate seat nor integrity.