What becomes crystal clear, as you digest last night's results, no matter the angle, the Liberal story has no silver lining. I don't see the benefit in downplaying the results, because that effectively masks the fundamental problems and creates an atmosphere where half-measures will do, when clearly they won't.
The Bloc suffered a huge blow, but that implosion leads to a question of why voters have adopted a "anybody but Liberal" mentality. The fact that Bloc voters went to the Conservatives and NDP suggests the Liberal message isn't even part of the conversation. Plug in a francophone leader and the results are a powerful statement on the state of the Liberal Party. Liberals can make the case that the Bloc were the big losers last night, but that result leads to more questions, rather than convenient diversion.
Dion doesn't deserve all the blame, and you don't want to overstate the implications. Having said that, the Dion "team", the inner circle, made many critical errors in judgement and with leadership comes responsibility. When you hand-pick a candidate, and you know that you face a formidable opponent, there is NO EXCUSE for the gong-show that apparently went on in Outremont. As the storm brewed, people seemed content to rest on historical laurels, the illusion of the "big red machine", nobody acted with any sense of urgency. Whether people like it or not, these by-elections were always framed as a mini-referendum on Dion, so the stakes were well known and the brain trust should have reacted in kind.
The way to rally the troops, is too convey a sense of confidence. Unfortunately, leadership races never seem to end in the Liberal Party, so rather than whine and project a paranoid insecurity, the Dion team is far better served to inspire people, as opposed to the siege mentality. If Dion doesn't enjoy the support of his caucus, then the bottom line is more a question of his failure to lead effectively, than it is a testament to hidden agendas. In other words, actions and words will make people "believe", and the lack thereof will lead to more questioning. How can you hope to lead the country, when you can't seem to lead the rank and file?
Last night was abysmal and disturbing, it wasn't just a few fluke by-elections that have no relationship to a general election. What we witnessed last night was the potential path to a Conservative majority and the realization that the Liberal Party is on the endangered species list. When you consider the NDP, the NDP, outpaced the Liberals in two ridings, it is more than a brief apparition. Unless people are content to accept Dion as "dead man walking", the gravity needs to sink it, because frankly this type of wipeout been coming for a long time. Business as usual, some tinkering here and there, equals total defeat, Harper unchecked.