Kevin Williamson’s abortion comments were shocking. But at least he’s intellectually honest.

Williamson, if you haven’t heard of him, is a relentlessly, seemingly compulsively provocative conservative writer who was hired away from National Review by the Atlantic

.. a tweet in which Williamson asserted that “the law should treat abortion like any other homicide” and that women who have abortions should therefore be subjected to the death penalty, preferably by hanging.

.. On Thursday, after Media Matters for America surfaced a podcast in which Williamson expanded on his hang-the-women approach, Goldberg announced that it was time to part ways. Williamson’s words, he said, run “contrary to The Atlantic’s tradition of respectful, well-reasoned debate, and to the values of our workplace.”

.. My point, instead, is about the actual content of Williamson’s remarks. They are shocking and brutal, deliberately so, and I understand why, if you are a woman who supports abortion rights, you might not want him sitting at the adjoining cubicle. But what Williamson said is also, from his point of view, intellectually honest, which is more than can be said for many who oppose abortion rights.

.. Politically acceptable is not the Williamson way. Of abortion, he said in a September 2014 podcast, “I think in some ways it’s worse than your typical murder. I mean, it’s absolutely premeditated . . . It’s something that’s performed against the most vulnerable sort of people. And that’s the sort of thing we generally take into account in the sentencing of other murder cases. You know, murdering a 4-year-old kid, is not the same as killing a 21-year-old guy.”

.. As to the punishment, Williamson said, “I’m absolutely willing to see abortion treated like a regular homicide under the criminal code.” Which meant, in Williamson’s typically macho language, treating it as a hanging offense. “I’m kind of squishy about capital punishment in general,” he noted, “but I’ve got a soft spot for hanging as a form of capital punishment. I tend to think that things like lethal injection are a little too antiseptic.”

.. But it is, at least, intellectually honest. In some ways, it is more feminist than the regular antiabortion and Republican party line, which is, as Trump ultimately did, to paint the woman as hapless victim, not mature, responsible actor.

.. If that were their core, unshakable belief, many Republican politicians would not endorse an exception to allow abortion in cases of rape or incest.

Come see us, Mr. President. We have questions.

It has been more than a year since Donald Trump held his one and only full-fledged news conference as president.

.. President Trump took two questions, both from friendly news outlets, neither of which asked about the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, even though Trump’s former deputy campaign chairman was entering a guilty plea at that very time.

.. Please outline what role you played in drafting your son Donald Trump Jr.’s statement about the June 2016 Trump Tower meeting? Did you say that the statement should describe the meeting as being “primarily” about adoption? What was your basis for saying that? When did you become aware of the meeting?

.. Are your taxes still being audited?

What’s so extremely, uniquely wrong about Trump’s presidency

there are glimpses of the seemingly reasonable guy beloved by Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who one day says he’ll “take all the heat” on immigration, who wants to sign a “bill of love.” Do not be fooled. He is a chimera. Two days later he will have vanished, leaving you feeling slimed and gaslighted. Graham was right the first time: Trump is a “kook” who is “unfit for office.”

.. The biggest lie ever told by a candidate to the American people came from Trump, repeatedly, during the campaign: “At the right time, I will be so presidential, you will be so bored.” Now we know: He is characterologically incapable of fulfilling this vow.

..It is little comfort to conclude that our best hope lies in the rationality of North Korean leader Kim Jung Un and the steadying influence of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.
.. The longer-term and greater danger is that Trump
  • does not believe in American ideals and institutions. He
  • does not believe in a free press or free speech;
  • unconstrained, he would crack down on both.
  • He does not believe in the rule of law, a Justice Department free of political interference,
  • the separation of powers or an independent judiciary. He
  • does not believe in the United States as a beacon and example to the world.

The end of shame

“I never wonder to see men wicked, but I often wonder to see them not ashamed,” Jonathan Swift observed

.. it feels, more and more, that we are experiencing the end of shame.

.. two oddly connected stories: Alabama Republican Senate nominee Roy Moore and the tax bill.

.. For some, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and most of his colleagues, the answer has been a welcome yes.

..  To conclude that electing an accused child molester to the Senate is preferable to seating a Democrat is the epitome of shamelessness.

.. The White House line on Moore has descended from “if/then” to “let the voters of Alabama decide” to “we need the seat.”

..  Kellyanne Conway, who had once touted the no-Senate-seat-more-important line, found something even more important than defeating an accused child molester: “I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through.”

.. Mick Mulvaney .. once styled himself a deficit hawk and now is pushing a measure projected to add at least $1.5 trillion to the debt over 10 years.

.. the bill is so studded with gimmicks that the real cost is more like $2.2 trillion.

.. Mulvaney’s brazen willingness to admit that the price tag is phony — specifically the notion that individual tax cuts will expire. Mulvaney, making the rounds of the Sunday shows, felt no need to dissemble. “One of the ways to game the system is to make things expire . . . a lot of this is a gimmick,” he told NBC. And, on CNN, “It’s simply trying to essentially manipulate the numbers and game the system.” In other words, we’re lying to you to ram this through, and we’re not even going to bother to hide it.

.. If hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue, what does it say, exactly, when our most senior public officials feel no such compunction?