Five Best Thursday Columns

Brian Beutler on the GOP and immigration, Damon Linker on National Review, Gail Collins on pre-K, Seth D. Michaels on Mitch McConnell, and William Galston on income inequality. 

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Brian Beutler at Salon on the GOP and immigration. "After talking it over with John Boehner last night, Joe Biden says he’s pretty confident that House Republicans will be able to pass a consensus immigration reform bill. According to Nancy Pelosi, she believes Republicans will adopt a reasonable position on immigration reform that most if not all Democrats will ultimately support," Beutler explains. "Presumably Democrats would never agree to an immigration reform bill that immigrants themselves believe would make their lives more difficult — so the worst possible outcome here is probably that nothing happens at all. No bill. But right now, the best possible outcome hinges on this bizarre metaphysics of guaranteed citizenship," he argues. "It's ... possible that Republicans will make legalization precluding citizenship, or making citizenship effectively unattainable, their final offer. And I’m not sure Democrats and advocates have adequately grappled with the bind that would place them in," Beutler writes. The Washington Post's Greg Sargent tweets, "Here's the nightmare scenario for immigration reformers, detailed by ."

Damon Linker at The Week on National Review"Climate scientist Michael Mann is suing National Review and Mark Steyn, one of its leading writers, for defamation," Linker explains. "It's a charge that's notoriously hard to prove, which is no doubt why the magazine initially refused to apologize for an item on its blog in which Steyn accused Mann of fraud. Steyn also quoted a line by another conservative writer (Rand Simberg) that called Mann "the Jerry Sandusky of climate science, except that instead of molesting children, he has molested and tortured data." (Simberg and the free market think tank for which he works, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, are also named in the suit)," Linker writes. "The lawsuit has not been going well for the magazine." Steyn has criticized the female judge who's refused to dismiss the case, and now Steyn's attorneys have dropped him as a client. It's a mess. "Now, the lawsuit may well be dismissed down the road. But the longer it continues, the more likely it becomes that Mann will eventually prevail, either by forcing an expensive settlement or by prevailing in court and winning a substantial penalty from the defendants. It's doubtful that National Review could survive either outcome," Linker argues. Zach Beauchamp at Think Progress tweets, "Fantastic column on the National Review suit, and why tolerating buffoons like Steyn hurts conservatives."

Gail Collins at The New York Times on pre-K. "All of a sudden, early childhood education is really, really popular. Everybody’s favorite," Collins writes. "The other night at the State of the Union speech, President Obama mentioned 'high-quality early education' and John Boehner applauded. Boehner applauded early education! Paul Ryan likes it, too," she notes. "Here in New York, we’re having a political dispute that pits the let’s-just-cheer camp against the pick-a-tax crowd. Mayor Bill de Blasio wants to pay for universal prekindergarten for New York City 4-year-olds with an increase in the income tax rate for high income city residents. He got elected on this issue, but he needs the state’s permission," Collins argues. "So here’s the question: How much of the new enthusiasm for early childhood education is real, and how much is just an attempt to dodge the whole inequality debate? Maybe we could agree that no politician is allowed to mention pre-k without showing us the money."

Seth D. Michaels at Talking Points Memo says Mitch McConnell thinks you're stupid. On Sunday, "the Senate minority leader insisted congressional Republicans have to use the debt ceiling to extract concessions. McConnell's brilliance is just how much dishonesty he can pack into so few words," Michaels argues. "At the heart of McConnell's audacious bull is his reference to 'the request of the President to raise the debt ceiling,' in order to give the impression that a debt ceiling increase is a favor to President Obama. It's not and he knows it. This is actually pretty simple. Congress sets revenue levels. Congress sets spending levels. That's how the system works, as laid out in the Constitution," he writes. It would be like the Seahawks refusing to kick off to the Broncos at the Super Bowl unless they got points in exchange. "Mitch McConnell thinks we're stupid enough to let him get away with this. Political reporters shouldn't help him out," Michaels writes. Dave Stroup, the digital communications manager at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, tweets this comparison from Michaels: "If the Broncos won't sit down and negotiate, it'll be their own fault if the Super Bowl gets canceled."

William Galston at Politico on income inequality. "While the usual clash between liberal and conservative economic views has gotten most of the attention, a quiet but intense debate has been taking place among Democrats," Galston writes. What is to be done [about income inequality]? I’m not sure. But I have a hunch of where to begin—with a concerted effort to reverse the alarming slide in labor force participation," he argues. "Clearly, the aging of the population cannot explain these trends—for whatever combination of reasons, younger and middle-aged workers, not just the elderly, are dropping out of the U.S. job force. If not reversed, these trends will depress national output, slow the growth of household incomes and make it increasingly difficult both to finance a dignified retirement for aging Americans and to make decent provision for poor and disabled Americans."

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