Let's be real. Charlie Crist isn't trailing in the Senate race because he's a weak leader who surrounds himself with a coterie of crooked businessmen and conflicted advisers. No, those would be legitimate reasons. Rather, he's trailing the Senate race because back in February, he hugged Barack Obama.
In the year since, Crist has avoided Obama like the plague -- until today. Obama is scheduled to arrive in Tampa in just a few hours. This being their second date, let's consider the romantic possibilities.
According to the high school dating rulebook, Obama would be entitled to reach, at a minimum, first base -- a kiss on the lips, tongue being optional. Except fate has conspired against these lovers. Obama is no longer the popular guy at school, like he was last year. And let's face it, Crist is no longer as pure as the new-fallen snow, having whored around with felons like Alan Mendelsohn and Scott Rothstein.
Today is a true test of their love.
If it's real, then we'll see a hug -- along with a whisper: Brokeback Mountain's "I wish I could quit you" being the classic choice.
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If it's not real, you'll see a firm handshake from the Florida governor, who will be standing at a distance, his shoulders squared to Obama, body language that will discourage the dreaded hug. Rather, he'll stiffly communicate his enthusiasm by shaking the president's hand with his two hands. However tempted Crist may be, he will not let his hand linger in the president's. His advisers were very specific about that. No twirling. No fingertip caressing.
At least not till the cameras are gone.
Or if this relationship has really soured, then Crist is going to employ the same maneuver the rest of us do when an ex enters a party: a faux-friendly wave, then a conversation with whoever is standing next to you, even if it's a complete stranger or a house plant.
Whatever it is, it'll be damned awkward. The Rubio campaign had better be ready to launch the clip on YouTube before day's end.