Five Best Monday Columns

Alex Pareene on Chris Christie's survival strategy, Jonathan Chait on Christie's past, Huma Yusuf on the Pakistani Taliban's PR offensive, Peter Beinart on the end of American exceptionalism, and E.J. Dionne on immigration reform and the Tea Party. 

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Alex Pareene at Salon on Chris Christie's survival strategy. After The New York Times reported on Friday that Christie knew about the lane closures as they were happening, "everyone from Charles C. W. Cooke to John Podhoretz declared Chris Christie’s political career over," Pareene writes. "Dozens of smart political journalists and commentators tweeted variations on 'Chris Christie is toast.' His office’s statement shows why he’s not: He’s shameless and unwilling to go down without a fight," Pareene argues. "Barring a shocking Senate vote, or I guess an arrest, Chris Christie isn’t going anywhere. He was just reinaugurated. If this scandal forces him to sit out 2016 — and that’s still a huge if — and a Democrat wins the White House, he can spend the next four years of his governorship and then an additional two years out of it rehabilitating his image. Then he’s tanned, rested and ready in 2020," Pareene insists. National Review's Charles C. W. Cooke tweets, "Salon is having a What Did Charles Cooke Say? day today."

Jonathan Chait at Daily Intelligencer on Christie's past. "Plenty of news stories have emerged to fill out Chris Christie's image as a vindictive and sometimes unethical politician. But The Washington Post digs deep into Christie's youth and finds an episode suggesting just the opposite," Chait argues. The story? Christie "had been the starting catcher on the baseball team [in high school], and a better player transferred to the school and took his starting spot, and Christie decided not to sue to keep the kid out of school," Chait writes. "This, concludes the Post, is evidence of Christie's generosity of spirit." Bloomberg View's Clive Crook tweets, "Unbelievable. Only in America."

Huma Yusuf at The New York Times on the Pakistani Taliban's PR offensive. "A joke has been circulating among Pakistanis on Twitter: 'How to negotiate with the Taliban: Blast. Condemn. Blast. Condemn. Blast. Condemn. #Fail.' It mocks the government’s swiftness at denouncing terrorist attacks while doing too little to stop them," Yusuf writes. "In 2013 alone, the Pakistani Taliban, a coalition of radical Islamists who want to overthrow the state and impose Shariah law, carried out 645 attacks in Pakistan, killing 732 civilians and 425 security personnel," she reports. So the Taliban is now chiming in. "The spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban condemned a blast on Jan. 16 at an Islamic center in Peshawar that killed 10 people and wounded more than 50. He spoke against attacks in public places that claim innocent lives and blamed the bombing on groups seeking to 'tarnish the image of the mujahedeen.'" 

Peter Beinart at National Journal on the end of American exceptionalism. "From the moment Barack Obama appeared on the national stage, conservatives have been searching for the best way to describe the danger he poses to America's traditional way of life. Secularism? Check. Socialism? Sure. A tendency to apologize for America's greatness overseas? That, too. But how to tie them all together?" Beinart asks. Conservatives conclude that Obama doesn't believe in American exceptionalism. "They're onto something," Beinart argues. "In fundamental ways, America is becoming less exceptional. Where [Newt] Gingrich and company go wrong is in claiming that the Obama presidency is the cause of this decline. It's actually the result. Ironically, the people most responsible for eroding American exceptionalism are the very conservatives who most fear its demise," he argues.

E.J. Dionne at The Washington Post on immigration reform and the Tea Party. "The botched rollout of the healthcare law has called forth some good news: Republicans are so confident they can ride anti-Obamacare sentiment to electoral victory that they’re growing ever-more impatient with the tea party’s fanaticism. Immigration reform may be the result," Dionne argues. "House Speaker John Boehner is telling his rank-and-file that they can win the 2014 elections simply by avoiding the stupid mistakes their more-ferocious colleagues keep urging them to make. In this view, the health insurance issue will take care of everything, provided Republicans end their tea party fling," he writes. "None of this heralds the dawn of a new Moderate Republican Age. Shifts in the Republican primary electorate and the tea party insurgency dragged the party so far to the right that it will take a long time to bring it within hailing distance of the middle of the road. But change has to start somewhere, and the GOP’s slow retreat from the fever swamps may turn out to be one of Obamacare’s utterly unintended effects," Dionne argues.

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