Whatever happened to that feeling? Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon happened -- and both were shameless liars. They destroyed not only their own credibility, but the credibility of the office.
Even when Lyndon Johnson told us the truth at a crucial juncture during the Vietnam war -- that the Communist offensive of 1968 was a defeat for them, even as the media depicted it as a defeat for us -- we didn't believe him.
In later years, Communist leaders themselves admitted that they had been devastated on the battlefield. But, by then it was too late. What the Communists lost militarily on the ground in Vietnam they won politically in the American media and in American public opinion.
More than 50,000 Americans lost their lives winning battles on the ground in Vietnam, only to have the war lost politically back home. We seem to be having a similar scenario unfolding today in Iraq, where soldiers won the war, only to have politicians lose the peace, as Iraq now increasingly aligns itself with Iran.
When Barack Obama squanders his own credibility with his glib lies, he is not just injuring himself during his time in office. He is inflicting a lasting wound on the country as a whole.
But we the voters are not blameless. Having chosen an untested man to be president, on the basis of rhetoric, style and symbolism, we have ourselves to blame if we now have only a choice between two potentially tragic fates -- the loss of American lives to terrorism or a further dismantling of our freedoms that has already led many people to ask: "Is this still America?"