by Scott Hopkins
Reporting from Denver

TM UPDATE: Just going to step into Scott’s post for a real Halperin classic:

HALPERIN: My hunch is this is going to end up being one of the worst moments in the entire campaign for one of the candidates but it’s Barack Obama. […] I believe that this opened the door to not just Tony Rezko in that ad, but to bring up Reverend Wright, to bring up his relationship with Bill Ayers.

Last week, as veep anticipation grew to a fever pitch, Mark Halperin at Time’s The Page posted a shocker headline piece called “Hoosier Values”:

What is Barack Obama looking for in a running mate?

Obama tells TIME he wants someone who is “not about ego, self-aggrandizement, getting their name in the press” and tells CBS News he wants someone he would “feel comfortable with.”

Ahh, a prediction about Evan Bayh, perhaps? He continued:

Obama at Saddleback: “There are people like … Dick Lugar, a Republican, who I’d listen to on foreign policy.”

On CNN this past Sunday: BLITZER: “Do you agree with Senator Lieberman that Senator Obama has not put the country first?”

LUGAR: “No. I think that was clearly a partisan statement at a rally. I respect everybody their opinions in a political campaign, but that’s all that was.”

Huh? He then posted a picture of Obama and Lugar together saying it was “what the future could look like”. Yes, Halperin was seriously suggesting, on Time Magazine’s dime, that Obama might choose as his running mate a 76-year-old Republican who already endorsed John McCain. Lest you think this was clearly comedy, the piece was removed in just a few hours (after much criticism, I’m sure) and would be lost forever had it not been recorded elsewhere.

Almost the exact same thing occurred two weeks earlier when a piece appeared with the Airplane!-inspired title of “Leon Is Getting Larger”. This time, Halperin’s bizarre speculation focused on an even more out-of-nowhere VP choice: Leon Panetta. Again, the piece was erased from the site within hours.

And then there’s the goofy, slapdash photoshop jobs that pop up every so often, like this golden oldie from February.

I’ll give Halperin this much…he’s pretty good when it comes to news alerts. Like Matt Drudge, but without the nauseating bias. It’s also the place to go for press releases and to get overviews of campaign conference calls. But as far as predictions and analysis go, I’m not sure Halperin can be taken seriously at all. The world is not crying out for another Robert Novak.

Just the facts, Mark. For your own sake.