Two years into his term as president of the United States, Donald Trump was a goner.
He already had the unmitigated hate of everyone who voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election, which saw him triumph in one of the biggest upsets in American political history. The Affordable Care Act, which he promised to repeal and replace, hadn't been. A special counsel was digging deeply into allegations he and his campaign colluded with Russians to steer the outcome of the presidential election.
Trump's nominees, fairly or unfairly, were having a difficult time being confirmed. Even after they were confirmed, they seemed to quit or were dismissed with unusual regularity. The influx of illegal immigrants, a problem he promised he would correct with a wall he hadn't built, continued unabated. Even his signature accomplishment, a personal and corporate tax cut, was being trashed by the usual suspects as a sop to the rich.
A bestselling book by Michael Wolff, "Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House," captured the president's lack of gravitas: "But not only didn't he read, he didn't listen. He preferred to be the person talking. And he trusted his own expertise — no matter how paltry or irrelevant — more than anyone else's. What's more, he had an extremely short attention span, even when he thought you were worthy of attention."
The voters made their disgust with Trump official in the 2018 midterm election when they returned Democrats to control of the U.S. House.
As it turned out, their ascension was their downfall.
With the Democrats' fresh position on high, new faces of ridicule, racism, cynicism and anti-Semitism emerged and termed themselves "The Squad." Their suggestions and others, eventually taken up by 2020 presidential candidates, promised government-guaranteed jobs, free college, free health care, forgiven tuition debt and the abolishment of the Electoral College, among other things even the most gullible voters thought never would be suggested in a responsible country.
As for Trump, the special counsel's investigation wasn't enough. The new Democratic House opened investigation after investigation into him and his administration. Every week one committee chairman or another cited something forthcoming that would take down the president or a bombshell right around the corner.
We wrote at the time that the piling-on had the potential to elicit sympathy for Trump, perhaps enough to make people consider a second term for the mercurial president.
Among those breathless, frequent predictors of doom was U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who often had "direct" and "ample" evidence of the president's guilt in the Russia probe.
When the Mueller report cleared Trump of collusion, Democrats only redoubled their efforts to find something — anything — to bring him down.
So it was Schiff again who touted the report of a whistleblower without first-hand knowledge of a telephone call Trump made in July with the president of the Ukraine. In that call, he was to have threatened to halt the delivery of aid without a promise from Ukraine to look into corruption that might involve 2020 presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Trump immediately released a rough transcript of the call, which contained no such promise.
Remember quid pro quo? That was so fall 2019.
But now that they were so far out on a limb, Schiff and the Democrats had to do something. So they quickly called an impeachment probe and came up with two charges, abuse of power and obstruction of Congress, which they later affirmed in a House vote. Along the way, Schiff refused cross-examination of his witnesses, lied about evidence and mockingly fictionalized the content of Trump's call with the Ukrainian president.
Somehow not realizing Americans had seen and heard enough of the congressman and his antics, his party made him one of the impeachment managers in the president's Senate trial. And on Wednesday, he delivered a couple of doozies.
The U.S., Schiff said, gives aid to the Ukraine "so that we can fight Russia over there, and we don't have to fight Russia here." Viewers wondered if they'd missed a near war with Russia.
And he said, "The president's misconduct cannot be decided at the ballot box, for we cannot be assured that the vote will be fairly won." With that, he teed up the next conspiracy, should Trump win a second term.
In 1998, four years after winning back the U.S. House for the first time in 40 years, Republicans overplayed their hand and impeached President Bill Clinton, who was acquitted in the Senate. In 2020, less than two years after winning back the House, Democrats have overplayed their hand and not only will be unable to convict Trump in the Senate but now look like they will be unable to beat him in November. And he'd been a goner.