Must-Read Op-Eds for Monday, Jan. 6


KEVIN WILLIAMSONNATIONAL REVIEWI am not the most pragmatism-minded conservative in the world, but if your definition of “conservative” is too narrow to include the American Conservative Union or Rick Perry, you can pretty much count on never winning another election again ever. That’s fine if you make your living abusing elected Republicans... You can always keep whining that the Republicans would have won if they had run some “real conservatives” instead of whomever they do run, and there are enough half-bright people in the world to make up an attractive audience for advertisers. As a business model, that’s fine; but if your goal is changing the direction of the country, you might want to broaden your view. ... The question for Republicans in 2014 is whether they want to have a Duck Dynasty election or an Obamacare election.THE COSTS OF U.S. RETREAT EDITORIALWALL STREET JOURNALMr. Obama's retreat [in Iraq] has squandered the gains of the surge, and now we're slowly being dragged back in. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Sunday that the U.S. is "very, very concerned" about events in Iraq but that the U.S. won't send troops because "this is their fight." That's true until jihadists based in Iraq attack U.S. targets. If the Iraq insurgency grows, don't be surprised if Mr. Obama is urged to send in military advisers. President Obama and the Rand Paul Republicans want Americans to believe we can avoid the world's conflicts with good intentions and strategic retreat. The costs and consequences of that retreat are now becoming clear in Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and beyond. Those costs may end up being far greater than if we had stayed engaged in Iraq and attempted to help the moderate opposition in Syria.I'M SUING OVER OBAMACARE EXEMPTIONS FOR CONGRESSSENATOR RON JOHNSON (R- Wisconsin) WALL STREET JOURNALOn Monday, Jan. 6, I am filing suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin to make Congress live by the letter of the health-care law it imposed on the rest of America. By arranging for me and other members of Congress and their staffs to receive benefits intentionally ruled out by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the administration has exceeded its legal authority. … Republicans have tried to overturn this special treatment with legislation that was passed by the House on Sept. 29, but blocked in the Senate. Amendments have also been offered to Senate bills, but Majority Leader Harry Reid refuses to allow a vote on any of them. I believe that I have not only legal standing but an obligation to go to court to overturn this unlawful executive overreach, end the injustice, and provide a long overdue check on an executive that recognizes fewer and fewer constitutional restraints.THE COMMISH, THE 2ND TIME AROUNDMAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMES BILL BRATTON’S biggest problem right now might not be stop-and-frisk. It might be stop-and-sulk.  Given a new mayor who catapulted into office by castigating the police, given a City Council that passed two punitive bills related to the police and racial profiling, given the prospect of federal oversight on stop-and-frisk, given the overshadowing of the stunning drop in crime by the open sore of racial insensitivity, New York police may decide to engage in, as police call it, de-policing.  If morale sinks too low, one former New York City police official suggests, officers may not go after criminals “in the most aggressive fashion.” … After 20 years of news conferences touting crime declines and a safer city, if crime stops going down — let alone if it goes up — it will be a political catastrophe for City Hall. COMPROMISE: NOT A 4-LETER WORDTHOMAS FRIEDMANNEW YORK TIMES Today, we would be best served in meeting our biggest challenges by adopting a hybrid of the best ideas of left and right — and the fact that we can’t is sapping our strength. … These hybrid solutions are not how to split the difference. They’re how to make a difference. But they only get forged if Republican leaders take on the Tea Party — which transformed the G.O.P. into a far-right party, uninterested in governing — and remake the G.O.P. into a center-right party again. If that happened, I’m certain that a second-term Obama, who is much more center-left than the ridiculous G.O.P. caricatures, would meet them in the middle. Absent that, we’re going to drift, unable to address effectively any of our biggest challenges or opportunities. HOPE AND CHANGE IN THE VATICANJON FAVREAUTHE DAILY BEASTFor Pope Francis, the priority is not to defend Catholicism as the institution it has become, but to promote Catholicism as the message it was always meant to be. As the leader of a Church whose edicts and traditions have long appeared dated, Francis seems acutely aware that to be truly heard, his words and actions must be relevant to the times in which we live. And so he has chosen this moment—a moment of historic inequality, extreme materialism, bitter tribalism, and environmental degradation—to remind us that as children of God, we are called to something more.  … in a time of hardening cynicism and distrust, one man’s faith in our capacity to treat each other with greater justice and dignity has captured the attention of the entire world.