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The media took no interest in this, uh, contradiction. As the year unfolds, Mr. Obama is counting on them to skate over his prevarications but apply a microscope to the Republican candidates, including jokes by supporters.

With that kind of backing, an unscrupulous politician would be tempted to stretch the truth to the point of snapping it in the electorate’s face. Especially someone who spent his formative, community-organizing years in Chicago, absorbing the ruthless tactics and contempt for truth expounded by his guiding light, Saul Alinsky.

Alinsky died in 1972, but his acolytes schooled young Barack Obama. Nobody knows what’s in anyone’s heart except that person and God, but Alinsky is probably having an interesting afterlife.

In “Rules for Radicals,” he wrote: “Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgment to … the first radical known to man who rebelled against the establishment and did it so effectively that he at least won his own kingdom - Lucifer.”

In the Bible, Jesus describes Lucifer - that is, Satan - as “the father of lies.” Rick Santorum, in a 2008 speech, quoted Jesus on this very point. Now he is being crucified for it by media that no longer care for truth.

Apparently inspired by Satan, Alinsky wrote: “All values and factors are relative,” which means you can use lies if they work better than truth.

I had a taste of this in a debate years ago at the University of Tennessee with a top official from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). We were debating the use of library Internet filters. When I mentioned that the ACLU had sued to force a local government to adopt an ACLU policy, he got laughs by saying that “nothing Mr. Knight says is true, up to and including the words ‘and,’ ‘if’ or ‘the.’ “

Later, as we rode in a student’s car, I asked him, “You know I told the truth, and yet you misled those students into thinking I had made it up.” He shrugged, grinned and said, “Ah, it worked, didn’t it?”

What we need now is someone who can talk over the intelligentsia’s heads to the American people, who can discern a lie or recognize a joke if given half a chance.

Robert Knight is a senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a columnist for The Washington Times.