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Cast-off Crist goes it alone

From the left, Washington Monthly's Steve Benen sees a lurch to the right:

"The 'purge' has been underway for a while now, it's making the Republican Party smaller, more rigid, less reasonable, and far less open to diversity of thought. Crist, apparently, no longer feels welcome in the GOP. Neither did Arlen Specter. Dede Scozzafava was forced out. Utah Sen. Bob Bennett's (R) career is ending because his conservatism wasn't extreme enough for the party base.

"It's possible that the electoral consequences of this will be limited. Under normal circumstances, a party that deliberately moves away from the American mainstream scares voters away. Republicans have all but posted a sign on the door at RNC HQ that reads, 'He-Men Moderates-Hating Club,' which would ordinarily send the electorate running in the opposite direction.

"But that's what makes this year's landscape so disconcerting -- Republicans are only rolling out the welcome mat for hard-right ideologues, but because voters are frustrated with the recession and congressional dysfunction, the GOP is likely to make gains anyway."

At Slate, John Dickerson does the body language:

"The political rules of hugging have changed.

"Crist's downfall in the Republican Party is often clocked from the moment he hugged President Obama in February 2009. Obama, in the early stages of his attempt to reach out to the other party, praised Crist's support of his stimulus spending during a Florida visit, and the governor praised right back. The hug alone wasn't where Crist's transgressions began or ended, of course. But it became a powerful symbol that opponents within the Republican Party used against him. (His opponent launched a Web fundraising page with the picture and a caption that read 'Get the picture?')

"The public presidential hug has a mysterious power. . . . (The most famous presidential hug, between President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, was a special case.).

"But starting with Sen. Joe Lieberman, the hug became political poison. Democrats used his embrace of George W. Bush, and Bush's peck on the cheek, to help force the Connecticut senator out of the party in 2006. Democrats used John McCain's hug with George Bush to show that his claims to being a maverick were hollow."

In that case, are high-fives okay?

Candidate Zucker?

Let the record show that I accosted Jeff Zucker in the lobby of The Washington Post.

The chief executive of NBC Universal had dropped by for a chat with reporters and editors, but I wanted to ask about something he had said on Joe Scarborough's radio show: that he might one day trade television for a run for public office.

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