Robert Knight

“I think we ought to suspend, perhaps, elections for Congress for two years and just tell them we won’t hold it against them, whatever decisions they make, to just let them help this country recover.”

The tape reveals that she was serious, without a hint of irony. But the Raleigh News & Observer political blog ran this headline: “Perdue jokes about suspending congressional elections for two years.” The article itself said it was “unclear” whether Perdue was “serious.”

USA Today’s Catalina Camia, under the headline “N.C. Gov. Perdue: Suspend elections for Congress,” began her report with this benefit-of-the-doubt lead:

“Was North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue joking when she suggested holding off on elections for Congress?”

Two weeks ago, Barack Obama showed how to play this game. Caught in a hurricane of reaction against his administration’s tyrannical order to Catholic hospitals to offer insurance covering contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilizations, he pretended it was still being negotiated.

“It became clear,” he told a hastily arranged Feb. 10 press conference, “that spending months hammering out a solution was not going to be an option.”

Reality check: Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in January gave hospitals one year to comply – or else lose federal funding.

A Wall Street Journal editorial noted that when a reporter had asked, “Just to be clear, so it’s giving them a year to comply rather than giving them a year to in any way change how they feel or the Administration to change how it feels,” a senior official replied, “That is correct. It gives them a year to comply.”

The media took no interest in this, uh, contradiction. As the year unfolds, Mr. Obama is counting on them to skate over his prevarications and instead 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.

Mr. 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 Mr. Alinsky is probably having an interesting afterlife.

In Rules for Radicals, he wrote:

“Lest we forget at least an over-the-shoulder acknowledgement 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 a media that no longer cares 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. 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

Robert Knight is an author, senior fellow for the American Civil Rights Union and a frequent contributor to Townhall.