Four years ago this past Thursday, Michael Gerson was holed up in a suite at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York City, where a teleprompter had been set up and President Bush was practicing his acceptance speech for the 2004 Republican National Convention in front of a handful of his closest aides.
On the last day of this year's GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., Gerson was scribbling some notes longhand for his column, eating a salad for lunch and talking about how relaxed he has been feeling.
"You don't have a horrible feeling in the pit of your stomach all the time," he said. "I like my life. Now I can give the vague, unhelpful advice that I got for seven years."
For the White House, the 2008 Republican National Convention was notable not only for the absence of President Bush, who because of Hurricane Gustav became the first incumbent to skip his party's nominating convention in 40 years. Attending the convention were several former senior Bush aides who have crossed from the world of government to punditry, including Gerson, former senior adviser Karl Rove and former counselor Dan Bartlett.