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I've spent the better part of my career defending murder cases.  As any good defense attorney will tell you, there's always a point when the prosecutor will waive the bloody pictures from the crime scene at the jury and get under their skin.  Believe me, it's tough to walk your client out the door after that moment.  

But every once in a while, the prosecutor overplays his/her hand.  The bloody pictures come out one too many times, and the jury starts to realize that the pitch is pushing their emotions just a little too far, and they resent being manipulated.  At that point, they open their minds to the possibility of the defendant's perspective and, if the facts permit, you might just see a not guilty verdict.

McCain and the GOP's repetition of the POW story went on many times too many.  We, the jury of the American Public, will concede the fact that his experiences in Vietnam were horrific and his conduct exemplary, but we will also understand full well that the intent was to manipulate rather than to persuade.  

My prediction is that McCain will get his just due for his honorable service and sacrifice in Vietnam. We will all respect him when this process is done. But our verdict will go to the more authentic and honest persuasions of Obama.

Originally posted to jsmckay on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:20 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  don't forget all of the wounded Iraq vets (16+ / 0-)

    will also have their blood boil hearing about it.

    Republicans are not a national party anymore. Read My Lips: One Spouse, One House.

    by jalapeno on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:21:43 PM PDT

  •  If he'd had an ounce of class (14+ / 0-)

    HE wouldn't have mentioned it.  It was overplayed well before his speech.  But he couldn't stop himself.  

    The fucking opportunist.  

  •  thank you for expessing so well what (5+ / 0-)

    I feel.

    "It was a genuinely outstanding speech. It was magnificent..." -Pat Buchanan

    by Rumarhazzit on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:21:58 PM PDT

  •  Its way too early now, good comments (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NogodsnomastersMary, Lopez99

    "Four seconds is the longest wait " -Sleater-Kinney

    by delphil on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:22:05 PM PDT

  •  as a member of the jury I concur. (5+ / 0-)

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars". William Jennings Bryan

    by ImpeachKingBushII on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:22:15 PM PDT

  •  Very interesting perspective! (8+ / 0-)

    Thanks for your insight! I was totally disgusted with the blatant use of "9/11" imagery for their political purposes, and I believe there will be a backlash against the GOP by most Americans.

  •  but then again the American public (4+ / 0-)

    dont overestimate them

    "Four seconds is the longest wait " -Sleater-Kinney

    by delphil on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:23:03 PM PDT

  •  I was (5+ / 0-)

    surprised that he actually still considered that the ace in the hole. I think anyone under 40 was clicking the remote to the US Open or something else when he started in on that long story.

  •  honestly...his speech was inpenetrable... (4+ / 0-)

    I couldn't follow any logical thought or argument

  •  He Turned A Compelling Story Into A Cliche (8+ / 0-)

    The metaphor to me was like a salesman who makes his case and then tells you the sad story of his life in order to ensure the sale. I think it will strike many as pretty damn sad.

  •  Hope yer right, guy. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NogodsnomastersMary

    Welcome Back, Hillary & friends!

    by Krum on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:26:36 PM PDT

  •  Sorry, but, but I've about had it with (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Redfire, NogodsnomastersMary, Floande

    his honarable service.  What exactly was honorable about being held.  Was'nt that called prisoner of war.  He volunteered.  And yes, to your point - he has dipped into this well far too many times.  But  there is nothing honorable about someone who turn around and use it to further his career.   Should we also regard my neighborhood firefighter and police depts as honorable servicemen?

  •  While honoring his service, and (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, Gram E

    being fully sympathetic towards and respectful of what he endured as a POW, we do not therefore have to become ourselves prisoners of his war.

    It is not unheard of that a person who suffers abuse inflicts similar abuse in their turn. Not a healthy pattern, and can be a difficult one to break. While I do not know, I do hope McCain had an opportunity to seek, and sought, professional assistance from those knowledgable re: mental health issues.

  •  I wonder if he was really tortured (0+ / 0-)

    or not.  How would the Bush Administration define the stress of his experience?  A lot of the horrors have been redefined now so....torture?  

    Fight for Democrats in 2008 or the Republicans will continue to follow us home into our private lives.

    by Gram E on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:30:36 PM PDT

  •  I guess he will use his POW story to (0+ / 0-)

    answer at least one out of every three questions in all three debates. We must not forget what an hero he is and because of his pain and torture, we must give up our social security, give up our unemployment benefits, give up our public education system and all else that we the people gained during the 20th century  - what's progress anyway if one can't understand the tubes of the internets?

  •  The best prosecutors have "touch" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bicycle Hussein paladin

    They will flash the bloody pictures, knowing full-well that they will be sent to the jury room and make their presence felt, even if nobody has the balls to pull them out and look at them.

    Democrats Will Win if We Are The Party of the People see: Progressive Populism

    by jsmckay on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:36:01 PM PDT

  •  The Comforts of America Tempted Me to Go Home (0+ / 0-)

    When McCain told about how he was offered a chance to go home early, he said he thought about it.

    He said that he liked the idea of getting back to the comforts of America, but he chose to stay.

    It was honorable for him to stay.

    But I was curious he didn't mention what else in America might drive him to accept the offer to go home early.

    Besides the comforts of America, he had a new born baby girl he had barely ever met and of course his wife and his two adopted step sons.

    Curious why he didn't mention them for a reason to get back home?

  •  But why are WE the defendants, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, rasbobbo

    when it's the Republicans who committed the crimes?

  •  Indeed. The problem with murders and myths... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    katier, NogodsnomastersMary

    is the same.  If you look at them closely, you usually find they're more complicated than their purveyors would like you to believe.

    Democrats Will Win if We Are The Party of the People see: Progressive Populism

    by jsmckay on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:40:32 PM PDT

  •  This retired trial lawyer agrees with you! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee, eternallyvigilant, Darmok

    I tried civil cases (mostly defense, but some major plaintiff's cases as well).  The most surprising verdict I ever got was a case I was defending where my client's tractor-trailer broadsided a woman's car at a stoplight.  Our guy clearly had the red light (which he admitted), but had been momentarily distracted and when he realized the light was red, it was too late to stop.

    There was no question that the plaintiff had sustained some pretty serious injuries, but she had also made a remarkable recovery (albeit not without some residual problems).  But she WAY tried to overdo it on her description of what she'd gone through during recovery, and how much permanency she actually had.  She ended up getting less than 1/4 of what I'd offered in settlement, and only a few percent of what her last demand had been.  Upon talking to the jury afterward, they really resented how obviously she'd been counting on their sympathy.  

    My wife is the daughter and granddaughter of career Navy officers, and the great-granddaughter and great-great-grandaughter of career Army officers, and her father was on a ship that was torpedoed during WWII.  The most she ever heard her father talk about the experience was the night before we were married, when our mutual fathers realized that her father's ship had been right off the fantail of my father's aircraft carrier when it was torpedoed, and that they'd been on ships in the same task force through much of the war.  The two of them discussed their mutual experiences late into the night.

    Her comment about McCain's speech tonight was, "For a guy who supposedly doesn't like to talk about his experiences as a POW, he's talked about almost nothing else tonight."  She was really offended by it.  And incidentally, my wife's first job out of college was as a civilian employee of the Navy, in which she worked indirectly for McCain's father when he was Commander, US Naval Forces Europe.  Back in 1999 when McCain first began running, I went to a book signing and had him autograph a picture of my wife getting a performance award from his father.  Despite the fact the photo might be worth something if McCain wins, and despite the fact that my wife thinks very highly of McCain's father, she's maxed out to Obama (as have I, after my last couple of hundred dollars).

    "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

    by leevank on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 08:56:21 PM PDT

    •  My father keeps his WWII stories to himself (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee

      He says war is the most ignorant thing humanity does. He has some horrifying events that happend to him that are still fresh in his 87 year old memory. He came out against the Iraq war at the very beginning. He is also voting for Obama.

      •  I wonder how he felt about the speech... (0+ / 0-)

        Do you think we'll see any backlash from Vets?

        Democrats Will Win if We Are The Party of the People see: Progressive Populism

        by jsmckay on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 09:14:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Sounds like my uncle in Iowa (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        SarahLee, eternallyvigilant

        He was in D-Day, and from the earliest years I remember, he always flew a flag in his front yard.  The day after the Iraq War began, he called me and the first words out of his mouth were, "You'll never guess what I've done."  When I couldn't, he told me that he'd taken down the flag, because so many people were waving them as signs of support for the war, and he didn't want anybody to think he supported his war, which he considered the worst decision by any politician in his lifetime.

        He said that the day after D-Day, his unit marched past a field hospital, outside of which was a large cart piled high with amputated arms and legs.  He said that for some reason, that single sight, more than the sight of friends getting killed, sickened him and has stayed with him all theese years.  He said that he decided then and there that while war was sometimes necessary (as WWII was), it should be a last resort, and that there was nothing worse than a politician who entered one unnecessarily.

        "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

        by leevank on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 09:16:36 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Great example of the point. Consider OJ Simpson (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      leevank

      case as well.  I've always believed that the prosecution in that case was the most "overtried" in history.  The prosecutors had no touch whatsoever. They lunkishly put on every conceivable piece of evidence and witness they could muster, in abject fear that they would be criticized if they left anything out.  Kind of like the "prevent" defense in football.  It covers the coache's ass, while at the same time giving up lots of 10 yard gains.  The result was in fact the opposite, they created a zillion distractions and hooks for the defense to nit-pick. By the time they were done, the DNA just seemed like a tiny bit of the puzzle.

      A good prosecutor would have had the "touch" to put in the DNA, waive the bloody pictures just enough, and sit down.  Had they done so, OJ would have lost.

      Lots of interesting analogies, eh?

      Democrats Will Win if We Are The Party of the People see: Progressive Populism

      by jsmckay on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 09:13:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think the real mistake they made (0+ / 0-)

        was in succesfully supressing the evidence that detective Mark Fuhrman was a self-confessed racist.  Then when those tapes of his movie pitch turned up, all the racist stuff was allowed to come in.  This broke the unspoken bond between the prosecutor and the jury, that the prosecutor, is representing them and thier values, and can be trusted because of that.

        When a jury finds out that a witness has lied, a case can still be saved.  But when it learns that the prosecutor has lied on a material point, the case is almost impossible to win.

      •  Don't get me started on the OJ prosecutors! (0+ / 0-)

        That was the worst tried case in history.  It stunned me when I learned that Marcia Clark and Christopher Darden were teaching law school.  Every trial lawyer I know thinks the only thing they could teach law students would be to say, "Watch everything I did, and in every case you try, do just the opposite!"

        I've never understood the positive glee in much of the black community at the verdict, but I've also never understood why most of the white community thinks the jury's racial makeup had anything to do with it.  Virtually any jury that wasn't composed almost entirely of racists would have acquitted on that evidence, presented the way it was presented.  Hell, I'm convinced he did it, but I wouldn't have acquitted based on the way that case was tried.

        I'll still never forget when, owing to the time difference, a colleague and I were watching F. Lee Bailey's cross-examination of Mark Fuhrmann about his use of the "N-word."  I turned to the other lawyer and said, "Do you think he's used it?" "Absolutely."  "Do you think they can prove it?"  "I'd be stunned if they couldn't."  Do you have any doubt about what's going to happen in this case if they do prove it?"  "Nope."  "Do you think the jury would forgive him if he had just admitted using it?"  "Yes, but no jury I've ever seen has ever forgiven any witness for raising his hand and swearing to tell the truth to THEM, and then lying to them."

        Not much to do with tonight's events, but whenever I think about how incompetently that case was tried from the prosecution side, my blood pressure goes up.

        "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

        by leevank on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 09:28:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Furman had the fatal "gaffe" (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leevank

          Like a candidate who can't take back an irreparable blunder, Furman trashed the credibility of the entire prosecution.  A lucky break for the defense to be sure, but it really stood out against the monotony of the overtried evidence.  

          I suspect there's still a lot more about that case that has to do with politics than we'll ever understand.  

          In many ways, I think trials are micropolitics amongst all the participants.  The verdict is truly an election.

          Democrats Will Win if We Are The Party of the People see: Progressive Populism

          by jsmckay on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 09:49:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Trials and elections both tell STORIES! (0+ / 0-)

            They've got to have a theme.  You've absolutely got to be able to say, in one not terribly compound sentence (and the simpler the sentence the better):  "We deserve to win because . . . ."

            Cases that have themes don't get overtried.  My first trial after joining DOJ (after a dozen years in a firm and a little over a year in a state AG's office) was even more overtried than the OJ Simpson case (yes, it's really possible).  It was a huge, dozens of plaintiffs, case with multiple lawyers representing all of the parties.  Shortly after being assigned to it, I asked the person who had been serving as lead counsel, "What's our theme for this case?"  I got a blank look and a "What do you mean by that?"  I replied, "I mean what is the one sentence description of why we should win, that we'll keep coming back to again and again with all of our evidence?"  The response was, "There are so many reasons we should win that they can't be summarized in one sentence."  My reply:  "If that's the case, we'll probably lose."  (In fact, after six months of an off-again on-again bench trial, both sides settled pretty much out of pure exhaustion.)

            I'm convinced that one of the reasons the Republicans have done so much better than Democrats at winning elections in recent years is that the people running their campaigns understand the need to have a theme (which to my disgust, seems to be, "You should be very afraid, and we should win because we'll protect you," with a secondary theme of "we're 'real Americans' just like you, and those elitist Democrats aren't), and the people running Democratic campaigns generally haven't developed such clear themes.

            The one big exception on the Democratic side was the Clinton campaign, when James Carville famously posted his "IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!"  The thing that concerns me most about the Obama campaign is that as brilliant as their organizational strategy has been, I haven't detected a theme that's as clear as the theme of either the Clinton campaign or the various Republican campaigns of the last few decades.

            If I could make one request of David Axelrod, it would be to develop a simple statement along the lines of "IT'S THE ECONOMY, STUPID!" (or whatever theme they decide upon as a theme), and prominently post it in every campaign office in the country.  

            "Those who would sacrifice liberty for security deserve neither liberty nor security." -Ben Franklin

            by leevank on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 10:22:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I was working for the DC Government at the time.. (0+ / 0-)

          and I think it was for two reasons:

          1.  In America If you're rich enough, (see Claus Von Bulow) even a black man can get away with murder, which is, perversely, a sign of racial equality.
          1.  It was done through the exposure of a self-admitted racist cop, foiling the prosecution's attempts to cover-up that fact.

          I've never understood the positive glee in much of the black community at the verdict,

    •  My father was also in the navy in WWII, (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SarahLee, eternallyvigilant

      The only time he ever really talked about his wartime experiences to me was the night before they were picking the draft numbers for my older brother's "year" during Vietnam.  

      He told me that as a pharmacist's mate on a troop ship, that after the troops were landed, the ship would immediately convert to a floating hospital.  One of his jobs was to to prepare the wounded Marines who died aboard ship for burial at sea.  He looked at me and said, "If your brother gets a low number I'll drive him to Canada myself."

      Another retired trial lawyer (administrative adjudication, government's counsel)

      •  So powerful, and so overlooked... (0+ / 0-)

        that there are drastically different perspectives on war from vets other than those like McCain.  Too bad Kerry botched the opportunity to make your dad's point.  

        Your dad's a much a hero in my book as McCain.

        Democrats Will Win if We Are The Party of the People see: Progressive Populism

        by jsmckay on Thu Sep 04, 2008 at 09:52:39 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My father never lied or bragged (0+ / 0-)

          about what he did in the war. He did not hide the fact that he gamed the system to stay out of combat for the first year of the war.  Or, that when he knew he was going to be drafted, he joined the Navy, where the fact that he was soon to become a pharmacist, he would automatically get a chief petty-officer rating and would have a very good chance of getting a shore assignment in a hospital - far away from the shooting.

          Then, as we began taking the offensive in the Pacific, he spent the rest of the war there, most of the time, aboard ship.  And when the war ended, because he had enlisted, he didn't get to go home until 1946.

          What I am proudest about him the most (we didn't have the greatest relationship) is that he held onto his atheism in his last few weeks of life, even when his body, was riddled with cancer and wracked with pain.  

  •  When America finds out (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    SarahLee

    that McCain has been exagerating his heroism as a POW to the point that he has out-and-out-lied about some of the most infamous parts of his story, what will the verdict be then?  Oh that's right, I forgot McCain gets a free pass on anything concerning his time as a POW.  

    I'm old enough to remember that the former Soviet Union was North Vietnam's biggest ally. I have little doubt that Vladimir Putin has the KGB file on what John McCain (a high-value prisoner)really did and didn't do as a POW.  I am very frightened by the fact that the man who is trying to re-establish an imperialistic Russia knows more of the truth of McCain's POW experience than we Americans do. No, no manchurian candidate BS, just stuff that can be used to embarass or provoke McCain. If you can shatter the legend, you may be able to shatter the man.    

    Even if that's not the case, while many in the US have been giving John McCain a free pass as soon as he asserts his POW status, do you think his wartime experience would matter at all to someone like Putin?

  •  Great Diary, thanks for your perspective (0+ / 0-)

    The POW story figured in every night of this convention. Plus the media, even the traditional media has been questioning his use of it. I think he has over played it as well.

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