Kathleen Parker

All but Obama have their hands over their hearts. Proof that Obama's unpatriotic mind is wandering around Mecca, right? Except that the photograph, taken last September during a "steak-fry" for Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa, captured a moment during the singing of "The Star-Spangled Banner," not the Pledge.

Nowhere is it written that one has to place hand over heart during the national anthem. Some do, some don't.

These and other smears against Obama have been thoroughly vetted by the fact-checking arm of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania (factcheck.org).

Fact: Obama put his hand on the Holy Bible, not the Koran, when Vice President Dick Cheney swore him into the U.S. Senate. Annenberg has the photo.

Fact: Obama pledges allegiance to the flag. Annenberg has the videos.

Fact: Obama attends Trinity United Church of Christ, which declares itself "Unashamedly black and Unapologetically Christian." The church's magazine recently gave a lifetime achievement award to that beacon of racial harmony, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Nevertheless, though Annenberg's researchers indeed found evidence that Obama's church indeed is pro-black, they said, "Calling it 'racist' is, in our judgment, a falsehood.''

Space prevents dissecting all the allegations made in this campaign, but suffice it to say that no candidate suffers Pinocchio envy.

Voters, meanwhile, are left to wonder who, if anyone, is ever telling the truth? What about the truth squads? Even those are composed of partisans, many of them active politicians themselves.

Will the presidential nominee be the one who tells the fewest lies?

With so many versions of truth in circulation -- and so many sources of mis- and dis-information -- disillusioned voters would be justified in wishing a pox on all their houses. In the midst of this darkness, however, at least there's one thing of which we can be certain: John Edwards' father worked in a mill.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a syndicated columnist with the Washington Post Writers Group.
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