Trump’s wrongdoing is real and significant, but Pelosi et al. never had the moral credibility to make a persuasive impeachment case against him or the political juice to get it done. Democrats were talking about impeachment before the man was ever sworn in as president, and they remain emotionally dependent upon their preposterous tale about Russians on Facebook throwing the election to Trump. (The Russians, for their part, wanted paralyzing chaos and to destabilize the United States politically — Mission Accomplished, Ivan.) The Democrats would have been far better off simply telling the truth about Trump’s failings and challenging him at the polls rather than presenting this as an apocalyptic drama that cannot wait for an election and resolution on ordinary democratic terms. Apocalyptic dramas are pretty hard to sell when unemployment is low, and it is possible to exaggerate the sins of even Donald Trump.

Instead, all Democrats have accomplished is to harden preexisting partisan divisions and to normalize (or further normalize, if you like; Newt Gingrich and the GOP Class of ’94 bear some responsibility here, too) the use of presidential impeachments as an ordinary part of the political arsenal. Donald Trump is not going to be any better — or any worse — than he would have been without the impeachment fight. Trump was made for this kind of mud-wrestling — everybody gets dirty but, like the proverbial pig, he enjoys it.