It was good to have a couple of days off, but I’m back and ready to go.

I want to thank the always-terrific Jonathan Bernstein for his great work in my absence — I clearly left Political Animal in capable hands — and I encourage readers to check out his work wherever it appears. You can find him at his main site, A Plain Blog About Politics, in addition to his regular contributions to Plum Line and the Washington Monthly‘s own Ten Miles Square.

And with that, let’s get back to the news.

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.