Whatever the final outcome, Martin is irreparably damaged. Even if Liberals snatch victory from defeat a second consecutive time, a party that now understands the importance of renewal won't fight another campaign with this leader.
What's self-evident now is that the seeds of Martin's failure were sown by success. In dividing Liberals to topple a sitting prime minister, Martin and his clique so weakened the Western world's most successful political party that a Conservative revival became inevitable.
Some men are better at seizing power than exercising it. Paul Martin spent nearly 15 years undermining Jean Chretien's leadership, taking the party out from under him one member by member, riding by riding.
And he is still fighting for the Liberal leadership right up to the point when he is about to be forced out of it.
His reaction to the sponsorship scandal--screaming that he was "mad as hell" about the worst scandal in recent memory--can only be explained by the desire to weaken Jean Chretien even further, even when he was out of office. After all, didn't it happen on his watch?
Unfortunately, Paul Martin could not make the electorate believe that he was an innocent bystander in a scandal involving fraudulent abuse of public funds by the Quebec wing of the federal Liberals. Not as finance minister, and certainly not as a senior Quebec minister.
His ruthlessness in forcing out his leadership opponents assured that he would never enjoy the loyalty of their supporters in an election campaign. Moreover, he has set the precedent for the same sort of palace coup that will remove him presently.
Paul Martin ran the most effective party leadership campaign in Canadian history.
And it left him with no energy or idea to actually govern.