Five Best Wednesday Columns

Charlie Stile on how Chris Christie won over Democrats, Jonathan Chait on Christie's flaws, Nate Cohn on what Virginia means for Democrats, Elizabeth Kolbert on the real threat of climate change, and David Dayen on Wall Street's new scheme. 

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Charlie Stile at The Record on how Chris Christie won over Democrats. "Christie discreetly and methodically courted Democrats with every lever of power at his disposal. By the end, many of those Democrats would supply the manpower, money or simply the photo ops for his campaign," Stile explains. Christie's leadership during Superstorm Sandy helped him keep the governorship, but it was his Democratic support that really propelled him to victory. For example, "Christie won the unofficial support — and admiration — of George Norcross, the South Jersey insurance executive and the state’s most powerful Democrat, by carrying out an overhaul of the state’s higher education system that poured more money into that region." At base, "Christie revived the transactional, political dynamic that vanished during the rocky tenure of [Democrat Jon] Corzine, his predecessor." By working out deals with certain Democratic mayors, Christie won the support of some of the more liberal towns in New Jersey. Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker's Washington correspondent, tweets, "@PoliticalStile has the best piece I've read on how Christie won."

Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer on why Christie won't go to the White House. Republicans "now see the enticing chance, in the form of Christie’s all-but-declared presidential candidacy, to right their course without veering left," Chait explains. But don't "measure the drapes" in the White House just yet. For one, Christie will fall to the left of other Republican primary candidates: He's "openly endorsed gun controlcalled for a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, and conceded the legitimacy of climate science" as well as participated in Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. And he's already been vetted once: "Mitt Romney wanted to make Christie his vice-presidential nominee, but took a close look at what the vetters came up with and ... promptly changed his mind." Huffington Post political reporter Sabrina Siddiqui tweets, "[Christie] faces uphill battle, especially in primary. Chait has good points here."

Nate Cohn at The New Republic on what Terry McAuliffe's win means for Democrats in 2014. A narrow victory in Virginia's gubernatorial race "doesn’t bode well for Democrats in 2014," Cohn argues. "[Ken] Cuccinelli was relatively competitive in race where everything went wrong. He was decidedly outspent. His party never unified around his candidacy and a libertarian candidate was there to take advantage. The government shutdown probably didn’t help. And, of course, Cuccinneli was a pretty flawed candidate in his own right." Most importantly, "McAuliffe did as bad as President Obama in coal country and western Virginia, the exact sort of places where Democrats need to rebound to retake the House." Matt O'Brien, an economics writer at The Atlantic, is skeptical: "I'm not sure the inability of a horribly flawed candidate to win big augurs poorly for Democrats in '14."

Elizabeth Kolbert at The New Yorker on the real threat of climate change. A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change "reads like a laundry list of the apocalypse — flood, drought, disease, starvation," Kolbert explains. "Climate change, the group noted, will reduce yields of major crops by up to two per cent each decade for the remainder of this century." Things look worse for animals: "Under the most likely scenarios, many species 'will not be able to move fast enough during the 21st century to track suitable climates,' and there is a chance that some ecosystems, including the Arctic tundra and the Amazon rainforest, will undergo 'abrupt and irreversible change.'" So what's to be done? "Any genuine 'preparedness' strategy must include averting those eventualities for which preparation is impossible," Kolbert argues. "This is not something that the President can do by executive order, but it’s something he ought to be pursuing with every other tool." MSNBC reporter Ned Resnikoff darkly jokes, "Regardless of what happens [in the elections], we're still on track for global, civilization-wide catastrophe."

David Dayen at Salon says Wall Street slumlords are back. Investors are "flocking to the latest product peddled by large banking interests, even though they look almost exactly like the mortgage-backed securities that were a primary driver of the financial crisis. These new securities, backed by rental payments, also have real-world implications for millions of renters, who could end up turning in their monthly checks to Wall Street-based absentee slumlords," Dayen argues. While these securities have secured a AAA rating from ratings agencies, "you’ll remember that mortgage-backed securities were bestowed triple-A ratings during the housing bubble, and that this spurred massive purchases, fueling demand for more and more home loans to create more securities." Dayen concludes, "if Americans weren’t seduced by the mythical dream of homeownership and turned to renting, that could certainly be positive. But it’s hard to trust that the same financial titans who blew up the economy won’t distort and pervert the rental market ..." David Gaffen, who covers U.S. markets for Reuters, tweets, "How [Wall Street] could wreck the economy again."

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