Sen. Barack Obama sure knows how to frustrate the news media. Whether or not that's a good strategy as he heads into the Democratic National Convention next week is open to debate.
Obama may or may not have named a running mate by the time this is published. He is supposed to appear publicly with his choice later today, but the lid on this news has been so tight that anything is impossible.
Watching the news media - including our own newsroom - follow this story has bordered on comical. Observers across the country have combed every statement made by Obama or any of the people supposedly on his "short list" for any hint of whom he would name - and when.
If he used a masculine pronoun, people wondered if Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius might be out of the running. If he mentioned Sen. Joe Biden by name, suddenly his chances grew. If he made an appearance with Gov. Tim Kaine, eyebrows were raised.
If people already had a designated speaking slot during the convention, did that mean they wouldn't be filling the slot reserved for the vice-presidential nominee? Did the fact that a leaked memo showed Kaine and Sebelius scheduled for appearances on Sunday morning news shows mean they were out of the running?
In the last several days, journalists have been reduced to staking out Biden's driveway and parsing Sebelius' schedule. Never has a routine day in the governor's office been of such interest. And did you know that Sen. Evan Bayh went to his twin sons' tennis camp on Friday?
Give the Obama campaign credit for its disciplined approach to this announcement. The more people wrote and opined on the vice presidential choice, the more obvious it became that everyone outside Obama's innermost circle was only guessing. They had lots of ideas, but virtually no information.
Some commentators have aptly pointed out that the attention focused on Obama's running mate selection, and to a lesser extent, on Sen. John McCain's choice, was an indication of how little of substance there was to report on concerning the presidential campaign. Maybe the candidates are at a point where they just need a little diversion from the campaign grind and decided it would be a good time to torment the news media by creating some artificial suspense.
Once the Olympics are over and the running mates are named, we may have to turn our attention to more meaningful events.