Almost all modern governments have a difficult time with the truth.
Typically, however, it was assumed democracies would be a bit more truthful than dictatorships. Believing health and literacy data from communist-controlled regimes was reserved for the foolish and the naive, but an active and open press was supposed to put some constraints on the leaders of freer societies.
In the United States we have growing evidence this assumption is beginning to unravel.
In my lifetime, I have never seen a presidency with a more blatant disregard for the truth than the Obama administration.
Stop the finger pointing and the childish "Nah, nah, you did it first" rhetoric. Note that I said "blatant."
Nixon had his problems with the truth, but the press was after him in a fevered pitch that still puts the old-timers in the press room into a state of hallowed nostalgia.
To a large extent, the press has now become the PR office of the modern presidency, especially this one.
Barack Obama could stand in a driving rainstorm and proclaim it a sunny day and the press would not even bat an eye. If someone at Fox News or an independent blogger said it was actually raining, they would be attacked as liars and maybe even as dangerous people whose access to the public should be restricted.
The disregard for the truth is so blatant and automatic that members of the Obama administration don't even bother to learn the story line before lying. The capture and death of Osama bin Laden was a good example.
Numerous versions of what happened were given by people who were all supposedly in the same room and who are thought of as "in the know" in the Obama circle of associates.
The Associated Press even became a little uneasy with the fakery of photographing Barack Obama announcing the death of bin Laden at one location while the speech was actually given in another.
You could say that this is just good PR, but this administration engages in this sort of thing so automatically that even the PR hacks in the press are becoming uneasy.
This disregard for the truth is also found in two other areas that should raise concerns.
The administration not only lies about itself, its sycophantic press will lie about anyone or anything else that happens to cast even the slightest negative shadow on the administration.
The media asked George W. Bush what he thought of bin Laden's death. Asked about the accuracy of the subsequent report, a spokesman for the former president replied, "Most of the quotes are not accurate."
The second problem is in the disconnect between discourse and actual behavior.
For example, at the same time the White House extols the benefits of Obama's universal health care bill - even proclaiming that implementation will save money - his administration is approving waivers to make certain organizations immune to provisions of the act.
In the last month, over 200 waivers were issued, bringing the total to 1,372 for what the press referred to as the "Democrats' health care reform law."
In the waiver story, the word "Obama" magically disappeared close to the name of the bill.
It is no longer possible for a serious person to believe "official" announcements of this government. The unemployment numbers are fiction. Inflation data have little relationship to reality. Government assets are purposely misreported. The projected costs of new laws are fairy tales.
These are matters of accounting, so one can only imagine what the honesty quotient is of more politically related issues.
This is all made possible by a media that has turned what its heroes did to Nixon into a myth. Instead of a search for the truth, they now see the overthrow of a government and the false glory of imagining themselves as kingmakers.
This conceit has become so strong they ironically have been turned into PR hacks for the actual kings and queens of our society.