If Merb taught us anything, it is showed us that dedicated people can change the direction of this community. I worry less about the core team getting hit by a bus, and more about stability of the framework and for large systems built upon it.
I think if we focused on those issues we may care less about what is happening at the top, for example extending maintenance cycles, stabilizing important plugins, and giving older releases as much face time as the bleeding edge. The edge is critical to expansion of the technology, but the platform will be taken more seriously if it behaves like someone who has a financial stake in its products.
That mentality will indeed impact these technical points, which is exactly why projects like the ASF repeat ad nauseam the mantras of consensus, respect and community before code.
This controversy is very much about the Rails community. It's the Rails community leaders who are defending Matt. If this had been an Apache committer you would have seen a clear and swift apology from the ASF and likely a huge mailing list thread about how this behavior isn't helpful.