If either Stephen Harper or Mike Duffy is still reaching for any high ground in this unseemly spectacle playing out here, they will find the earth above them crumble on touch.
They are playing on a level, muddy playing field now and it is nothing short of remarkable the prime minister finds himself struggling on Duffy's turf.
It is an indictment of his leadership and an indelible stain on his office, its bully-boy tactics and its apparent view that it can bulldoze through any problem with a wink, a payoff and a carefully rehearsed narrative.
But this is bad news for only one of these two combatants.
Duffy is finished, likely unemployable, and his scorched earth torching of every bridge indicates he knows that.
But Harper is on record as saying he will seek the confidence of Canadian voters one more time in 2015.
"It is true that Mike Duffy has almost zero credibility," Opposition leader Tom Mulcair taunted Harper Tuesday, "but his story is still more believable than that of the prime minister and that is quite a feat."
Duffy should still have been Harper's best asset even as the former broadcaster used the Senate chamber as his personal story-time theatre.
There are other allegations against Duffy that are not even being addressed in this debate and Harper is hardly fighting allegations and a paper trail from Mother Teresa.
Harper will continue to paint Duffy as a duplicitous crook and take that message to his party's convention this week, but Harper's problem is that he is still trying to tear Duffy down instead of taking the high road. Duffy has already been discredited and Harper can't gain any more advantage by trying to discredit him further.
What the country saw Thursday was a prime minister intent on toughening his message, saying the time for any apologies from the trio of senators under threat of suspension has long passed.
Duffy received payments for expenses never incurred, never paid any of it back himself, never expressed any regret for his actions, and lied about it and should be removed from the public payroll, Harper said.
Then he went after his former chief of staff, Nigel Wright, hammer and tong.
Duffy's tale of paying the money back was "concocted" by the senator and Wright, Harper said.
"It is completely unacceptable for me and for the public to be misled in this way. That is why Mr. Wright no longer works here," Harper said.
Yes, this is the same Wright who Harper first expressed confidence in when the $90,000 Duffy payoff was exposed. This is the same Wright who, according to Conservative insiders cited by the Globe and Mail, Harper tried to talk into staying. This is the same Wright whose resignation Harper finally accepted with "great regret," even though Harper agreed "Nigel believed he was acting in the public interest."
That was in May. Today, he is lumped in with Duffy.
Harper did not answer why, if Duffy was being ordered to pay back money he inappropriately pocketed, his legal fees were paid for by the Conservative party. It is still not clear what legal work was done for the senator and why.
And, a day after Duffy tabled a document in which Wright pledged to stop any "unilateral action" in the Senate, Harper drew guffaws from the opposition side when he maintained, straight-faced, that the Senate is an independent body.
There are other troubling signs for Harper that have been exposed by this scandal.
Suddenly, MP Peter Kent (another former journalist) - unencumbered by his binders of talking points as environment minister Kent - is available to anyone to tell them the Senate is trampling the rights to due process of the senators in question.
Peter Goldring, an Alberta MP who left the Conservative caucus after being charged with failing to provide a breath sample but was welcomed back upon his acquittal, says he has talked to 40 or 50 of his Conservative colleagues and about 80 per cent agree with his view that the senators are not being treated fairly.
And Harper's newly appointed Senate leader, Claude Carignan, seems adrift as he continues trying to get the requisite number of senators on side to do the prime minister's bidding.
But most troubling for Harper is the possibility that Duffy would seek one more chance, speaking under Senate privilege, to make more charges or release more documents damning Harper.
Then Conservative damage control would have to be launched as Harper was preparing for his keynote speech from its national convention.
Tim Harper is a national affairs writer. His column appears Monday, Wednesday and Friday. email@example.com Twitter: @nutgraf1