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EDITORIAL: Nancy Pelosi’s latest stunt doesn’t inspire confidence

Updated October 8, 2020 - 9:16 pm

In many ways, President Donald Trump is his own worst enemy. But he has been blessed by a rabid resistance intent on flaunting its descent into derangement.

When we last saw House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, she was traipsing about a San Francisco hair salon sans face covering. Since then, she has decided to hold up another round of federal coronavirus relief as a means of advancing a hard-left political agenda and denying the president a “victory” he can tout on the hustings. Now, she hinted Thursday, she’ll use Mr. Trump’s coronavirus infection to revive an effort to replace the president via the 25th Amendment.

“Tomorrow, by the way, tomorrow, come here tomorrow,” the speaker told reporters. “We’re going to be talking about the 25th Amendment.” The amendment in question articulates a constitutional road map for removing the president when he becomes incapacitated and can no longer “discharge the powers and duties of his office.”

The fact that this would require the consent of Mr. Trump’s Cabinet, the vice president and the president pro tem of the GOP Senate means it will never happen, of course. This is Ms. Pelosi trolling the White House with a showboating maneuver sure to grab the attention of the lockdown, anti-Trump press corps. Too, it’s a transparent ploy to gin up more “Trump fatigue” with undecided voters.

Yet it’s also another indication of the deep cynicism driving the Democratic election strategy. Ms. Pelosi and her cohorts rail about the president’s lack of character and decorum, yet gleefully descend into the muck to attack his administration and its supporters. They wring their hands worrying that Mr. Trump will chain himself to his Oval Office desk should he lose next month, yet they have spent the past four years refusing to accept the 2016 election results. How does the speaker’s stunt inspire confidence that Democrats seek to heal divisions and unite the nation?

Speaking of elections, Mr. Trump on Thursday also made news when he said he wouldn’t participate in next week’s town hall debate with Joe Biden after the Commission on Presidential Debates announced it was switching to a virtual format. Two points:

First, the switch to virtual is premature. If the president’s health continues to improve, he will be out of quarantine early next week. There’s no reason Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump couldn’t appear in person at the Oct. 15 debate as long as the usual precautions are in place.

Second, while the president’s frustration with the virtual format is understandable, he is in no position to forgo the opportunity to connect with swing voters, as his poll numbers have fallen since the fiasco that was the first debate. His campaign should push for an in-person debate, but the president should be prepared to participate remotely if that fails. He has little to lose.