After 134 tumultuous days, the impeachment of President Donald Trump ended in a predictable near-party-line acquittal this week by the Republican-controlled Senate. Out of 250 Republicans in Congress, only one - Senator Mitt Romney of Utah - had the courage of his conscience, voting to convict on first of the two articles. (Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a former Republican, also supported impeachment.)
Was it worth it? As Zhou Enlai supposedly said of the French Revolution, it's too early to say. But so far, impeachment has not lived up to either the greatest hopes or the worst fears of its advocates. In the best-case scenario, the incontrovertible weight of evidence would have led more than one Republican to turn against the president.
No one ever imagined that there would be 67 votes to remove him, but it was at least conceivable that advocates of impeachment could obtain a bare Senate majority and thus make it harder for Trump to claim that this was all a partisan plot.
That that didn't happen is a testament to the power of political polarisation, with a record-setting 87-point split between Democratic and Republican views of Trump in the latest Gallup poll. (He has the support of 94pc of Republicans and 7pc of Democrats.)
The craven Senate Republicans were so terrified of Trump's hold on their base that all but two of them voted against hearing from witnesses for the first time in impeachment history. Their behaviour brings to mind the Nixon defender who defiantly declared: "Don't confuse me with the facts. I've got a closed mind." Wednesday's acquittal comes despite, not because of, the evidence.
Mr Trump emerges with higher than normal - if far from stellar - approval ratings. The latest FiveThirtyEight polling average has him at 43.4pc approval and 52.1pc disapproval.
He has gone up in the polls recently (49pc support him in the new Gallup poll), but this is probably because the public approves of the economy, not of his conduct. Consumer confidence in the IDB/TIPP poll is at its highest level in 16 years and the incumbent tends to get credit - which Trump was eager to claim in the State of the Union.
The good news for President Trump's opponents is that so far there is little evidence of a popular backlash against impeachment.
Nearly 50pc of the American public supports impeachment and removal in the FiveThirtyEight polling average. That's not enough to drive him out of office. But it is actually slightly higher than the number (46pc) who wanted president Richard M Nixon convicted in July 1974, just a few weeks before he resigned, and it's far higher than support for impeaching president Bill Clinton, which topped out at a paltry 35pc.
The Economist/YouGov poll shows that, by 50pc to 34pc, Americans think Mr Trump is guilty of withholding military aid to Ukraine to force an investigation of the Bidens and, by 48pc to 39pc, they think he is guilty of obstructing Congress.
By an even larger margin, respondents in recent polls said the Senate should call witnesses. The Republicans' failure to do so denies Trump the full exoneration he craves.
The US public isn't rallying to Trump and the Republicans as they rallied to Clinton and the Democrats after impeachment in 1999 because what Trump did was far worse than lying about sex. In those days, Clinton's popularity shot up to 73pc and the Democrats' advantage in party identification expanded to 17 points.
By contrast, the RealClearPolitics polling average for a generic congressional ballot, showing a seven-point advantage for Democrats, is now nearly identical to the average of polls taken right before the 2018 midterm election.
In short, impeachment hasn't fundamentally altered the political dynamics - and its impact is likely to dissipate even more before the election. Impeachment could have its biggest impact on House Democrats in red districts and Senate Republicans in blue states, but opinions of Trump are so entrenched that it doesn't seem likely to leave a lasting mark on the presidential race one way or the other.
I still believe impeachment was the right thing to do, because it brought out so much evidence of Trump's wrongdoing - even without the testimony of important witnesses such as John Bolton and Mick Mulvaney. Even some of the senators voting to acquit acknowledge that Trump did something wrong.
They just don't care. Now it will be up to the voters to decide if it matters to them or not.
I'm resigned to the likelihood that Trump's outrageous abuse of office won't prevent him from winning a second term. But I don't think there's much House Democrats could or should have done differently.
Ignoring Trump's attempt to rig the election wasn't a serious option and pushing for censure wouldn't have been any more successful in winning bipartisan support. Sure, Trump may be emboldened after he's acquitted - but he also would have been emboldened if there had been no consequences at all once he was caught in a corrupt quid pro quo.
Representative Adam B Schiff, Democrat for California, and the other House managers proved their case. They did their duty with honour and eloquence.
All of the vulnerable Democrats such as Senator Doug Jones, Alabama, and the House freshmen who risked their seats to support impeachment were profiles in courage.
So too were all the civil servants - beginning with the whistleblower - who exposed Trump's dirty deeds at real risk of retribution.
It's not their fault that in Trump's America "truth" and "right" matter less than partisan might.
© The Washington Post