The post-mortems are accumulating, but I think the obvious has to be stated: John McCain and his colleagues in the Gang of 14 cost the GOP its Senate majority while the conduct of a handful of corrupt House members gave that body's leadership the Democrats.
It is hard to conceive of how the past two years could have been managed worse on the Hill.
The presidential ambitions of three senators ended Tuesday night, though two of them will not face up to it.
The Republican Party sent them and their 52 colleagues to Washington D.C. to implement an agenda which could have been accomplished but that opportunity was frittered away.
The Republican Party raised the money and staffed the campaigns that had yielded a 55-45 seat majority, and the Republican Party expected the 55 to act like a majority. Confronted with obstruction, the Republicans first fretted and then caved on issue after issue. Had the 55 at least been seen to be trying --hard, and not in a senatorial kind of way-- Tuesday would have had a much different result. Independents, especially, might have seen why the majority mattered.
Will the GOP get back to a working majority again? Perhaps. And perhaps sooner than you think. The Democrats have at least six vulnerable senators running in 2008, while the situation looks pretty good for the GOP.
But the majority is not going to return unless the new minority leadership --however it is composed-- resolves to persuade the public, and to be firm in its convictions, not concerned for the praise of the Beltway-Manhattan media machine.