Ciao?.With this post I close my guest tenure this week on Political Animal. As a long time reader, first time blogger, I found the experience a blast, a grind, and a rush. Certainly I acquired deeper respect for the sheer toilsomeness of the effort and for those who do it, day after day. I return now to the comparatively easy task of turning out two columns a week for the Los Angeles Times.

My thanks to this blog?s loyal and energetic cadre of readers and commenters, who generated a tide of instant response unlike anything I?ve experienced in my career ? and that includes my first job covering town and village boards, where you get feedback on everything. The response on a comment-rich blog like this one is truly bracing, and I appreciated those who posted compliments as well as those who posted curses. (Special appreciation to those who responded to my literary challenge with lists of their own favorite authors, some of whom are new to me and will go on my reading list.) And thanks too to Kevin Drum, who is responsible for creating the readership and reputation of Political Animal on which I merely freeloaded. Message: Feel free to invite me back any time.

I?m off now to San Diego, where I am scheduled to speak on my book, ?The Plot Against Social Security: How the Bush Plan is Endangering Our Financial Future.? (Third and final book plug of the week.) For those of you in the San Diego area, the talk is at 7 p.m. at Book Works in the Flowerhill Center, 2670 Via De La Valle, Del Mar. A book-signing follows. Stop by if you can, and if you do, come over and say hello.