Right after President Donald Trump officially crossed the 10,000-lie mark in The Washington Post's ongoing tally, he unfurled one of his worst, telling a crowd over the weekend that healthy newborn babies are being executed after birth by doctors and mothers.
In a society where shooting rampages can be sparked by extremist political myths, it's hard to imagine a more irresponsible fable for a president to drop into the middle of the already-explosive debate over abortion rights.
That debate is a serious one, with people of strong convictions on both sides. All of them, regardless of their views, should be loudly condemning Trump's inflammatory rhetoric. Yet among his fellow Republicans in Congress, the reaction has been one of shameful silence, just like his thousands of others.
Trump used to call himself "very pro-choice," but he now mouths the orthodoxy of his adopted Republican Party. As with his public expressions of biblical faith, to which Trump is also a newcomer, his anti-abortion rhetoric betrays a fundamental lack of understanding of the issue.
"The baby is born, the mother meets with the doctor, they take care of the baby, they wrap the baby beautifully," Trump told a rally in Wisconsin on Saturday, "and then the doctor and the mother determine whether or not they will execute the baby."
To be clear: What Trump described simply does not happen — not within the context of legal abortion, and presumably not ever. If it did, the doctor and mother both would properly be charged with murder. Period.
This is Trump's cartoonish contribution to the debate over so-called "late-term abortion." Itself a misnomer, it describes extremely rare third-trimester abortions generally employed only during pregnancies that have already turned dangerous or tragic, and never near (let alone after) full-term normal deliveries. But with his usual mix of ignorance and dishonesty, the president has concocted the most hellish fictional scenario he can. The better to whip up his base.
Throughout Trump's presidency, the Post has tracked what it calls his "false and misleading claims." He crossed the 10,000 mark Friday, the day before expressing this dystopian delivery-room nonsense.
Whether it's trade, immigration, economic statistics, America's history or his own documented attempts to thwart the probe into Russian election meddling, Trump has spun whatever warped reality he wanted. He knows his crowds will reward his lies with cheers, and GOP silence will allow them to pass unchallenged.
Abortion clinics and providers already face threats of violence, and sometimes actual violence. In spreading this particular kind of lie, Trump is flinging lit matches around a powder keg. If at some point it goes up, Republicans in Congress who didn't even attempt to rein in their deeply irresponsible president will have to reckon with it.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH