Sen. Barack Obama is set to leave for his much-deserved vacation with one very big loose end that doesn't want to be tied -- and that's not counting the veepstakes.
It's the drama that won't go away, the storyline that's too delicious to recede, the symbol of a party's divisions the very mention of which brings smiles to the faces of editors and producers: Obama vs. Clinton. (Welcome back.)
To former President Bill Clinton's missing praise (to say nothing of what he is saying), we add this: A steadfast refusal by Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton to rule out allowing her delegates to vent in the peculiar fashion of voting for her on the convention floor, instead of the candidate she's campaigning for.
"I happen to believe that we will come out stronger if people feel that their voices were heard and their views were respected," Clinton, D-N.Y., told a gathering of supporters last week, ABC News reported Wednesday. "We do not want any Democrat either in the hall or in the stadium or at home walking away saying, well, you know, I'm just not satisfied, I'm not happy."
"It's as old as, you know, Greek drama," Clinton said. (We couldn't agree more.)
Clinton gets a chance to clear the air with a noon ET Web chat Thursday organized for supporters (hope you weren't expecting softballs -- or donations that don't come with a price). What does it say about the most important relationship in the Democratic Party that this is still an unresolved issue, three weeks before Obama is set to formally claim the nomination? Can a party heal if one of its principal players -- and a few million of her supporters -- aren't ready for it?
"The refusal to publicly announce her intentions is widely seen as a bargaining chip Clinton is holding on to as party officials negotiate logistics regarding her convention speech and other activities," per ABC News.
Said Clinton friend Lanny Davis(who, like most inside Camp Clinton, don't want a roll call): "It's a reflection of genuine frustration by Hillary Clinton supporters that Sen. Obama seems to have forgotten about 18 million voters."
Think of how much the joint Obama-Clinton statement released late Wednesday doesn't say: "We are working together to make sure the fall campaign and the convention are a success. At the Democratic Convention, we will ensure that the voices of everyone who participated in this historic process are respected and our party will be fully unified heading into the November election."
This is the individual who'll be hitting the trail for Obama on Friday?
"Embedded in those remarks, say friends and advisers, are hints of Clinton's own feelings in the aftermath of a race in which she fought so hard and still fell short," Time's Karen Tumulty reports. "Behind the united front, says an adviser, 'it's not a great relationship, and it's probably not going to become one.' "
More from Tumulty: "In private conversations, associates say, Clinton remains skeptical that Obama can win in the fall."
"At this point, it is as likely as not that Clinton will be formally nominated at the convention, individuals close to the negotiations said," per The Washington Post's Anne Kornblut. "Officials have firmly denied a report last week that Clinton had decided not to have her name put into the record. Advisers on both sides also said that relations between the two are improving." (But still have a ways to go?)
"You only thought it was over," ABC's John Berman said on "Good Morning America" Thursday.