Five Best Thursday Columns

Jonathan Cohn on Obamacare in 2014, Brian Beutler on GOP strategy, Sara Benicasa on The Wolf of Wall Street, Dan Balz on Bill de Blasio and the Clintons, and Gabrielle Glasser on treating alcoholism. 

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Jonathan Cohn at The New Republic on Obamacare in 2014. "When the Affordable Care Act became law, nearly four years ago, it was easy to imagine that the political debate would basically end on January 1, 2014. ... Now that assumption seems hopelessly naïve," Cohn writes. Though the ACA is in effect, "the debate over the law’s merits will continue, at least through the midterm elections and perhaps beyond." In the continuing debate, Cohn urges us to "pay attention to scale" when pointing out Obamacare's problems. He also wants writers to acknowledge to complexity of the issues: "Obamacare sets in motion all kinds of changes. They will typically affect different people in different ways — creating winners, losers, and all sorts of people in between. Are there more winners than losers? How much worse off are the losers? Those are the kinds of questions we need to answer if we want to make a judgment about the law. And the answers are rarely simple," he writes. Business Insider politics reporter Danny Vinik tweets, "Smart rules for talking about Obamacare in 2014 from ."

Brian Beutler at Salon on the GOP's 2014 strategy. The ACA's "benefits are now active, which means proponents of repealing the law have a severe entropy problem on their hands. Just like you can’t re-create an erased image by unshaking an Etch-A-Sketch, you can no longer re-create the pre-Obamacare status quo by repealing the law," Beutler writes. So "it’d make a lot of sense for Republican leaders to seek a New Year’s détente. Stop pandering to their own voters by behaving as if outright repeal is an eventual possibility; stop fogging things up for their own constituents, many of whom would be better off if they understood what the law has to offer them," he argues. But Republicans will continue to go after Obamacare, this time pointing out people whose benefits don't begin right in January due to backlogs and other errors.

Sara Benicasa at Jezebel on the women of The Wolf of Wall Street . "Despite what you may have heard on your local Internets, The Wolf of Wall Street is not a misogynist film. It is instead a vivid portrayal of misogyny (and greed, and cruelty, and selfishness, and institutionalized sociopathy). And you should see it. Really," Benicasa argues. "Here is a fun thing that is true: depiction of bad behavior does not constitute endorsement of said bad behavior," she writes. "Witness The Sopranos, or Boardwalk Empire, or, hell, Macbeth. To decry The Wolf of Wall Street for 'glorifying' misogyny is, quite frankly, to miss the fucking point. Great art doesn't always show us great people. It shouldn't always show us great people. At its best, art makes us uncomfortable. It makes us think, that most inconvenient of activities." Mother Jones' engagement editor Ben Dreyfuss tweets, "This post is the best thing I've read about the silly Wolves of Wall Street controversy."

Dan Balz at The Washington Post on Bill de Blasio and the Clintons. "There was plenty of symbolism and more than the usual amount of politics attached to the formal inauguration of Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday. Issues such as the prospects of liberalism in an ideologically divided country, the future shape of the Democratic Party and the political ambitions of Hillary (and Bill) Clinton all played out in front of New York’s City Hall," Balz writes. Balz saw echoes of Bill Clinton rhetoric in de Blasio's inaugural speech. Where does that leave Hillary?  "At some point ... [she] will have to sort all this out. She will be asked to explain more precisely where she stands on issues of income inequality, economic growth, spending, taxes, entitlements and the trade-offs that will face the next president," Balz writes. His Post colleague Chris Cilliza tweets, "What Bill de Blasio means for the Clintons." The Daily Kos' Greg Dworkin responds, "Still waiting for 'What not writing about the Clintons means for political journalism.'"

Gabrielle Glasser at The New York Times on treating alcoholism. "This New Year’s, a good number of those who struggle to control their drinking will resolve to abstain from alcohol. No halfway measures. Quitting is the only way," Glasser writes. But some researchers think there are other ways to change drinking habits besides going cold turkey. "Research shows that many problem drinkers — those who repeatedly drink more than they intend, sometimes have physical or psychological consequences from overdrinking, and may have difficulty controlling themselves — could benefit from brief interventions and practical advice about how to set better limits and change their drinking by cutting back," Glasser argues. Bottom line? "We don’t treat cancer, depression or asthma with the same tools we used in 1935. We need to get away from the one-size-fits-all approach to drinking problems."

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