As any trial lawyer knows, victory in most cases usually rests on the credibility of the witnesses. If a witness comes across overall as honest, a jury will forgive him some inconsistencies in his testimony. But there is a tipping point at which a witnesses' errors can become too numerous or outragious to stomach, and the jury will conclude they are a liar and dismiss everything they have to say, even if some of it was otherwise believable.
The same thing is true in politics. The Republicans are world-class experts. They made Gore a liar by pounding home a single remote misstatement about inventing the internet. They made Kerry a flip-flopper on the basis of one video clip about voting for the war before he voted against it. They know that if you can kill the messenger, you don't have to worry about killing the message. You can just win, baby.
The McCain campaign has reached this tipping point, but the Obama campaign has yet to connect the dots for the public in the "jury" of national opinion.
a bit more after the flip
McCain's lies about taxes, Palin's record on entitlements and the Bridge to Nowhere, Obama's patriotism, and virtually every other issue are no coincidence. He has been allowed to act as though his errors are, at most, isolated examples of the "toughness" of the campaign. He hasn't been called to task for what they mean as a whole. He hasn't been saddled with the truth that he is a man who's ambitions have overwhelmed his former decency. He has become what he claims he is against. He is a man who will say anything to get elected. His campaign is no longer credible because he is no longer credible.
Yep. Politics is a tough business, just like trials. And if you're going to win a verdict in the jury of public opinion you'd better be willing to able to take out the other side altogether, not just nitpick at it's mistakes.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the common thread here is John McCain. The buck stops with him, and him alone. His campaign has engaged in a series of half-truths and distortions so numerous and so outragious that there can be no doubt about his intentions. His goal is to get elected, and he will say anything it takes to do it. The "straight-talk express" is a thing of the past, as each day's new distortions so painfully remind us.