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EDITORIAL: In search of adults inside the Beltway

On the issue of impeachment, President Donald Trump uncharacteristically held his tongue during Tuesday’s State of the Union address. Not surprisingly, his restraint didn’t last long.

Following his Wednesday acquittal, Mr. Trump unloaded on Democrats, particularly House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who embarrassed herself the previous evening when she tore up a copy of the president’s speech in a petulant and calculated show for the cameras.

“I don’t like people who use their faith as justification for doing what they know is wrong,” Mr. Trump said of the speaker, “nor do I like people who say ‘I pray for you’ when you know that is not so.” He went on to call the impeachment process “evil,” “corrupt” and “a disgrace, while labeling Speaker Pelosi and Rep. Adam Schiff “horrible” and “vicious” people.

The president has never been constrained by humility, and that was evident again during his Thursday celebration. But while Democrats have a point about Mr. Trump’s statesmanship deficiencies, they’ll now have a more difficult time making that criticism after Speaker Pelosi’s stunt. Mr. Trump is so deep inside her head that she, too, can no longer control her impulses. “You’re impeached forever,” she sneered Thursday, “and you’re never getting rid of that scar.”

Perhaps a live-streamed cage match might settle this feud once and for all. The ratings would quadruple those from the impeachment snoozefest. For now, however, the fallout continues:

— Some Republicans are demanding that GOP Sen. Mitt Romney, who voted to convict the president on the abuse of power article, be kicked out of the party. This is ridiculous. Healthy institutions allow room for independent thought and disagreement, while mindless conformity and obedience foreshadow stagnation and inevitable decline. GOP partisans may criticize Sen. Romney, but demanding that he adhere completely to majority doctrine is dangerously misguided.

— Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., has proposed a constitutional amendment to make it more difficult for presidents to be removed. His reform would require that the House approve articles of impeachment by a three-fifths vote rather than a simple majority. While House Democrats erred by turning impeachment into a partisan blunt instrument, Sen. Scott’s plan would also be overkill.

— Rep. Jerry Nadler, D-N.Y., has announced his House Judiciary Committee will subpoena John Bolton to testify. This signals that Democrats in the coming months will remain obsessed with removing Mr. Trump from office, leaving open the possibility of another impeachment attempt. This is not White House paranoia — a Washington Post opinion columnist has raised precisely that scenario.

When will the adults in Washington move the country beyond this sorry chapter?

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