State of the Union

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California tears her copy of President Donald Trump's s State of the Union address after he delivered it to a joint session of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020. Vice President Mike Pence is at left.

Can there be a greater challenge than being as boorish as President Donald Trump?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has managed.

What led her to tear at the pages of the State of the Union speech, in front of the Congress and the cameras? She called it a thicket of “untruths,” then added: “And I don't need any lessons from anyone, especially the president of the United States, about dignity."

Hell hath no fury like a woman whose party has been scorned, losing its effort to impeach and remove the president.

The battle of bad manners — the president was as curt with her, failing to shake her extended hand — took place on the dais of the U.S. House of Representatives.

Amid images of small-R republican government going back to Roman times, with the small-D democratic “people’s House” below, could leaders behave any worse?

We don’t want to know the answer to that question. But we fear that in 2020 things could certainly get worse.

Pelosi’s stunt was unworthy of her high office. Perhaps she felt she needed to appease frustrated anti-Trump voters in her party.

We do not exempt our own members of Congress from censure, although the single Democrat in the delegation, Cedric Richmond of New Orleans, has been relatively restrained. He was once criticized for apparently watching a golf tournament on his phone during a hearing. We’ll take that as good judgment in today’s context.

The Republican House members from Louisiana have indulged in just as much hasty and over-the-top rhetoric of politics as a battle of tweets.

Once the Pelosi shredder did its work, U.S. Rep. Mike Johnson, R-Bossier City, added to the low tone of this year. He said that Pelosi was potentially guilty of a felony in destroying an official document.

Johnson worked as a lawyer in cases involving constitutional issues. Given this assertion, we urge folks not to engage him in cases involving criminal law.

If the inhabitants of the Capitol were imprisoned for tearing up official papers in a rage, there would be a new overcrowding crisis at the U.S. Bureau of Prisons.

Not to mention a lot of special elections to fill vacant House seats.

And we hope that Trump does not embrace this legal bagatelle. Can’t you just hear the shouts at rallies, “Lock her up!”

The president is if anything a sore winner, on Thursday indulging more rhetoric about “corrupt” Democrats. He crassly questioned Pelosi's Christian faith at the National Prayer Breakfast. This is not leadership.

The Constitution worked as designed in this year’s impeachment drama, as it did in 1868, 1974 and 1999. The Founders did their job. Today’s leaders have not.

Our Views: Two impeachments, two lessons in how not to proceed