Is the Republican establishment losing it?
Is the party leadership capable of uniting a governing coalition as Richard Nixon did before Watergate and Ronald Reagan resurrected in the 1980s?
Observing the hysteria and nastiness of Karl Rove and the GOP establishment at the stunning triumph of Tea Party Princess Christine O'Donnell, the answer is no.
This party is not ready to rule.
Consider. In its grand strategy to recapture a Senate that George W. Bush and Rove lost in 2006, the GOP Senate leadership endorsed all its own caucus members for re-election, if they chose to run, then picked out all its favorite candidates for the open and Democratic seats.
Conservatives and tea party activists, however, had other ideas. They began to pick their own candidates. And, again and again, the Senate's chosen were rejected in favor of tea party challengers who had the endorsement of Sarah Palin or South Carolina's Jim DeMint.
Arlen Specter was rejected by the Pennsylvania GOP and left the party. Rand Paul routed Sen. Mitch McConnell's man in Kentucky. Charlie Crist was challenged by Marco Rubio in Florida. Crist, too, departed. Sen. Bob Bennett was denied renomination in Utah. Sen. Lisa Murkowski lost her primary in Alaska to a little-known fellow named Joe Miller.
But Delaware was the stunner. Rep. Mike Castle, a former two-term governor who had been winning elections for 40 years, was a certain victor in November.
Challenger O'Donnell, however, ended all that.
Yet, though her conservative credentials are far superior to those of Castle, O'Donnell was made the object of a wilding attack by National Review and The Weekly Standard, Charles Krauthammer, who lashed out at Palin and DeMint for "irresponsbility," and Rove, who on Sean Hannity's show went postal as soon as the returns came in.
Now, on paper, O'Donnell is a far tougher sell in Delaware than is Castle. But her defeat is not certain. Not in this volatile year.
And what is the justification for the savagery of the attacks on her, from her own?
What has this woman done? Did she vote for Sonia Sotomayor or Elena Kagan for the Supreme Court like Lindsey Graham? Did she support the Obama stimulus like Olympia Snow and Susan Collins? What did she do to deserve the trashing?
The answer is not distant.
To the Republican establishment, tea party people are field hands. Their labors are to be recognized and rewarded, but they are to stay off the porch and not presume to sit at the master's table.
And what O'Donnell did, with her amazing victory, is to imperil that establishment's return to power. That is why these Republicans went ballistic.
Asymmetrical Politics: Republicans Act Like an Unruly Mob, Democrats Like a Regimented Army | Michael Barone