Five Best Thursday Columns

Karl Rove on picking Dick Cheney, Ezra Klein on Congressional races and money, Joshua Green on negative presidential campaigns, Ruchir Sharma on China's growth rate, and Noah Feldman on Arizona's immigration law.

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Karl Rove in The Wall Street Journal on picking Dick Cheney Mitt Romney probably won't select a running mate until shortly before the August nominating convention, meaning we face four more months of pundits handicapping the race. "This exercise is largely useless," writes Rove, both because pundits rarely guess correctly, and history has shown that running mates are rarely, if ever, decisive in an election. Rove reveals that George W. Bush knew to focus on governing capability not political benefit when he picked Dick Cheney over Rove's many political objections. "There's a lesson there for Mr. Romney. Choose the best person for the job. Leave the politics to the staff."

Ezra Klein in Bloomberg View on money in Congressional races Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney may raise more money than any presidential campaign in history, but it is far less likely to have an impact on their race than the money that will pour into Congressional elections. "Money is least useful in contests where news coverage is most intense and opinions are most entrenched. ... how many people do you know with a strong opinion on their congressman?" Klein asks. He retells a story featured on an episode of 'This American Life,' in which Ami Bera launched a long-shot campaign against Rep. Dan Lungren. He nearly overtook him utnil a last minute campaign of negative ads funded by a Super PAC took him down. Congressmen know this can happen and they listen when a Super PAC calls to tell them their opinion on an issue. "The result, then, isn’t just that moneyed interests can throw congressional elections. It’s that they wield more influence after the election."

Joshua Green in The Boston Globe on favoribility ratings and going negative Both Mitt Romney and Barack Obama plan to focus their campaigns on making their opponent seem unacceptable to the electorate. "This shift from hope to hostility means that an equally important number for Obama is his personal favorability rating. A candidate's likability matters not only for attracting supporters, but also for pressing attacks against an opponent," writes Green. Romney's low favoribility numbers partly reflect a bruising primary campaign in which he went extremely negative on his opponents. Those with a higher favorability rating can launch more negative attacks without as much backlash from voters. "The economy may not do much for Obama. But one irony of politics is that when a race turns into a mudfest, the nice guy often finishes first."

Ruchir Sharma in The New York Times on China's healthy growth Following signs that China's economy is slowing down, consensus is divided between those who think it will continue to post a high growth rate and those who predict an imminent collapse. "Now, however, there are signs that China's growth is slowing to a rate that is ideal for the interests of the United States: fast enough to remain an important pillar of global economic growth, but not fast enough for China to remain a disruptive threat to American power." Sharma builds a case using historical examples from other fast growing nations like Japan that slowed to a more reasonable growth rate once they hit a certain income level. China's slowdown, he argues, will help America by reviving its manufacturing, increasing capital investments here, all without the global disaster that would come from a zero-growth China. "A smooth downshift to 6 or 7 percent makes China a more normal rival, one the world can do business with and compete head to head against."

Noah Feldman in Bloomberg View on national I.D. cards and immigration In Europe, police have long had the right to stop people and demand they show their papers. "On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court took up the issue -- and from what the justices said at oral argument, it seems the U.S. might soon be getting more European. Or at least one step closer to requiring a national ID card," writes Feldman. The Court heard arguments over Arizona's immigration law, and understandably, debate centered mostly on the provision that allows officers to demand papers of anyone they have reasonable suspicion is here illegally. Its very hard to determine what would give an office that reasonable suspicion, and the case presents issues of conflict between federal and state policy. "[W]hat about citizens who are born in the U.S. but do something that makes the police reasonably suspect that they are illegal? ... The ID card has to be national, as when we travel abroad -- which means a passport."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.