Must-Read Op-Eds for Weds, Jan. 15

THE MEDIA AND CHRIS CHRISTIE: GOING OVERBOARD IN JERSEYJONAH GOLDBERGLOS ANGELES TIMESChristie is widely seen as a threat to whoever the Democratic nominee will be. Unlike some recent GOP nominees, who struggled to be merely lifelike, Christie has an authenticity and charisma most national Republicans lack. … That probably explains the overkill as much as anything. Christie is new, exciting and interesting in ways Obama once was. The difference is that when Obama was new and exciting, the media were biased in every regard and heroically skeptical of any Obama wrongdoing. "We thought he was going to be … the next messiah," Barbara Walters recently said. The ardor has diminished but the skepticism remains. Christie, like most Republicans, never benefited from such skepticism, and never will.

WHERE RIGHT AND LEFT AGREE ON INEQUALITYWILLIAM GALSTONWALL STREET JOURNALWriting in the most recent issue of National Affairs, Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner declare that conservatives believe in equality of opportunity, not equality of results, but also that "government holds some responsibility for creating the ground for that equality of opportunity, which is not a natural condition." ... This is what makes the present moment so unusual. Most liberals agree with most conservatives that the objective is equal opportunity. ... We have a choice. We can continue a useless debate between two half-truths, or we can agree that we should work together on both parts of a complex and stubborn problem. ... Every serious analysis concludes that poverty in the U.S. would be far worse without the programs launched during the Great Society. So conservatives should stop repeating Ronald Reagan's canard that we fought a war on poverty and poverty won. ... But Lyndon Johnson launched the war on poverty to "open the gates" of opportunity and create a society in which everyone has a chance... Cash transfers and in-kind supports may help the poor. But unless that assistance builds opportunity, it will never be enough.TINES THAT TRY MEN'S SOULSMAUREEN DOWDNEW YORK TIMES Pizza can be hazardous to an administration. We all remember what happened when a Clinton intern delivered a pie to the Oval Office during a government shutdown. But de Blasio’s offense was so trivial that the most irritating part was the labor-loving mayor’s labored explanation, grandly attributing it to “my ancestral homeland.” … As with Christie the Bully, embarrassing incidents hurt politicians when they resonate about a deeper suspicion. Sargent Shriver calling for a Courvoisier in an Ohio mill town bar. Jerry Ford at the Alamo, biting into a tamale without removing the corn husk. … The question lurking beneath the surface with de Blasio is: Has he been promoted out of his league?  The answer can’t be determined when he devours his Staten Island pizza as though he were at the Tower of Pisa.THE CHRISTIE WAYEDITORIALNEW YORK TIMES Mr. Christie and his advisers were clearly eager to get Democratic endorsements — no doubt to show that he’s a Republican who would be able to win bipartisan support on the national stage. But, apparently, making his case that he was the best candidate wasn’t sufficient. Democrats who endorsed him received big financial payouts for their towns; Democrats who did not suffered reprisals. As Kate Zernike reported in The Times, the Democratic mayor of Harrison, who endorsed Mr. Christie, received $250 million in Port Authority money for a new transit station. The Democratic mayor of Union City, another endorser, got $3 million for his town even though the authority doesn’t operate there. The Democratic county executive of Essex County, who rounded up a number of endorsements for Mr. Christie, received $7 million in Port Authority funds for a park.PAUL RYAN'S PROPOSED WAR ON POVERTY IS HOBBLED BY CONSERVATIVE IDEOLOGYJAMELLE BOUIE THE DAILY BEASTTo bring the poor back to their communities, Ryan wants to eliminate the “hodgepodge” of existing programs and craft a “simpler” system that provides straightforward cash transfers. He doesn’t offer any detail, but when you consider these critiques in the broader context of the GOP, it’s clear what he means: “Reforms” that would reduce spending and redirect what’s left to smaller, state-controlled programs that would be at risk of additional cuts. … while I think Ryan is sincere about wanting to alleviate poverty, but he’s bound by an ideology—and a party—that doesn’t want to acknowledge the role that structure plays in all of this, and remains committed to a vision of government that isn’t equipped to deal with those kind of problems.WHITE HOUSE MOVES OBAMACARE GOALPOSTS AGAINSAM BAKERNATIONAL JOURNALThe White House is scaling back another self-imposed standard for Obamacare's success—and it's one the administration has spent months promoting. White House officials consistently—and accurately—argue that the most important metric for Obamacare's success this year is the mix of young and old enrollees. But they're backing away from their own goals for that mix. Getting young people into the system is critical to holding down premiums, and therefore to keeping each state's insurance market stable. … once again, administration officials are lowering their own standards for success—ditching targets they set or embraced, and redefining success as anything that's good enough to avoid a total collapse. It was the White House that set the initial target of 38 percent enrollment for young adults. But officials wouldn't stand by that figure this week.