Palin, False Rumors And An Odd Ad

The Good The Bad and The Ugly

Every Thursday up until Election Day, the CBS Evening News will take some time to assess the presidential campaign - and how it's going. CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield will be our guide to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. You can learn more about this series over at Couric & Co. blog.

The Good

It's the most tactically successful move of the entire campaign: John McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin.

It energized the conservative base of the Republican Party and given McCain the chance to claim the "change" label. Not so incidentally, it's turned the focus of the campaign away from economic policy, into the realm of culture and values - where Republicans have been winning with rural and working-class voters for the better part of 40 years.

Could Palin's experience, views, campaign performance yet prove a liability? Sure. But she could also be the first vice-presidential pick since Lyndon B. Johnson in 1960 to alter a presidential campaign for the better.

The Bad

This past week also provided more proof that partisans are fully prepared to believe the worst of the other side, no matter what the facts.

When Democrats gathered in Denver, delegates waved thousands of American flags to show they were as patriotic as the next guy. A week later FOX News reported that Democrats had thrown these flags away.

Bloggers on the right jumped all over the story - as more proof that when Democrats chant "USA! USA!" they have their fingers crossed.

Except that, as convention officials said, the story wasn't true. The flags were bundled for later use.

Bloggers on the left had their own exercise in mythology, circulating a list of the books Sarah Palin wanted banned from her local library when she was Mayor.

It was an eye-opening list, to be sure - more proof that conservatives hate the whole idea of free expression. Except that the list wasn't true. It included books that hadn't even been published back in 1996, like the Harry Potter books.

The Ugly

As for, well, if not the ugly, the "what-planet-is-this?" category - check out an ad from Kentucky, where Republicans gleefully aired a web ad featuring supporters of Democratic Senate candidate Bruce Lunsford in a frank and open exchange of views with an intrusive camera operator.

"Get off their property, a**hole," the alleged Lunsford ally said.

"It's a sidewalk," the cameraman said behind the lens.

"Listen you ... get the f*** off their property."

"I'm gonna take this camera and stick it somewhere you don't want it," the cameraman said before the footage ended.

As Greenfield said in reaction: Sounds just like the first Lincoln-Douglas debate.