You know, the whole Ayers matter would probably be put to rest (ditto Rezko, etc.), because the Obama campaign is right when it claims that people have very large issue concerns right now, if he would just answer some basic questions. If Obama would simply come out and say, yes, it's OK to associate with these people because their current lives having nothing to do with their former lives (or words to that effect), the majority of Americans would accept it. Obama himself is letting this become a much bigger issue than it might otherwise be by setting a tone of prevarication and avoidance. People hear thinks he's lying or hiding something after awhile, and eventually they began to wonder what else he might be hiding (like his former membership in the socialist party in Chicago - documents demonstrating this were posted on the web today). Sooner or later, these little lies add up. Now, I want McCain to win. I think he's absolutely the best candidate. But over the last few weeks, all of these little lies have also started making me want Obama to lose. If enough moderates like me began to think this way, Obama might find himself the victim of protest votes - not necessarily for McCain, but against him. He might find that his character really does count.
Here's another take: http://www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/wehner/36922