US Press: pick of the papers

The ten must-read opinion pieces from today's US papers.

1. The Obama Presidency by the Numbers (Wall Street Journal)

The president constantly reminds us that he was dealt a difficult hand. But the evidence is overwhelming that he played it poorly, writes Michael J. Boskin.

2. What the doctor ordered (Los Angeles Times)

Patients should know if their doctors get paid by drug firms, argue Tracy Weber and Charles Ornstein.

3. A new way to remember 9/11 (Denver Post)

Ten years ago Sunday, Lynne Steuerle Schofield lost her mother, Norma Lang Steuerle, when American Airlines Flight 77 was flown into the Pentagon.

4. Romney 1, Perry 0 (Washington Post)

Following the first debate, Michael Gerson considers the ex-Governor of Massachusetts the more authentic Republican presidential candidate.

5. India could be way out of Afghan war (Chicago Sun Times)

Something new needs to be injected into Afghan policy, writes this editorial; and it could come from New Delhi.

6. Squeezing Syria (Washington Post)

A WP editorial argues that tougher sanctions could help save the lives of innocents.

7. Casino bill is deeply flawed; rank and file should kill it (Boston Globe)

The long-awaited gambling compromise endorsed by Governor Patrick and legislative leaders is deeply flawed, full of the kind of special deals Patrick had warned against, claims this editorial.

8. Do We Still Need the Patriot Act? (New York Times) ($)

In 2001, in the weeks after Sept. 11, the law passed through Congress easily. But, asks this editorial debate, has it protected us?

9. Prison Progress (Detroit Free Press)

Maybe you were too busy firing up the grill for the holiday weekend to notice, says Jeff Gerrit, but Michigan's prison population dropped to the lowest level in 13 years last Friday.

10. Ideas for the mayor, big and small (Chicago Tribune)

Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for it: Ideas on how to close the city's $635.7 million budget deficit, courtesy of Chicago Tribune readers.

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Emmanuel Macron's "moralisation of politics" comes at a heavy price for his allies

"Fake" jobs in French politics, season 3 episode 1.

Something is rotten in the state of France. No political party – at least none that existed before 2016 – seems immune to the spread of investigations into “fake” or shady parliamentary jobs. The accusations sank centre-right candidate François Fillon’s presidential campaign, and led to Marine Le Pen losing her parliamentary immunity in the European parliament (and proxy wars within her party, the National Front). Both deny the allegations. Now the investigations have made their way to the French government, led by Edouard Philippe, Emmanuel Macron’s Prime Minister.

On Wednesday morning, justice minister François Bayrou and secretary of state for European affairs Marielle de Sarnez announced their resignation from Philippe’s cabinet. They followed defence minister Sylvie Goulard’s resignation the previous day. The three politicians belonged not to Macron's party, En Marche!, but the centrist MoDem party. Bayrou, the leader, had thrown his weight behind Macron after dropping his own presidential bid in April.

The disappearance of three ministers leaves Emmanuel Macron’s cross-party government, which includes politicians from centre left and centre right parties, without a centrist helm. (Bayrou, who has run several times for the French presidency and lost, is the original “neither left nor right” politician – just with a less disruptive attitude, and a lot less luck). “I have decided not to be part of the next government,” he told the AFP.

Rumours had been spreading for weeks. Bayrou, who was last part of a French government as education minister from 1993 to 1997, had been under pressure since 9 June, when he was included in a preliminary investigation into “embezzlement”. The case revolves around whether the parliamentary assistants of MoDem's MEPs, paid for by the European Parliament, were actually working full or part-time for the party. The other two MoDem ministers who resigned, along with Bayrou, also have assistants under investigation.

Bayrou has denied the allegations. He has declared that there “never was” any case of “fake” jobs within his party and that it would be “easy to prove”. All the same, by the time he resigned, his position as justice minister has become untenable, not least because he was tasked by Macron with developing key legislation on the “moralisation of politics”, one of the new President’s campaign pledges. On 1 June, Bayrou unveiled the new law, which plans a 10-year ban from public life for any politician convicted of a crime or offence regarding honesty and transparency in their work.

Bayrou described his decision to resign as a sacrifice. “My name was never pronounced, but I was the target to hit to attack the government’s credibility,” he said, declaring he would rather “protect this law” by stepping down. The other two ministers also refuted the allegations, and gave similar reasons for resigning. 

Macron’s movement-turned-unstoppable-machine, En Marche!, remains untainted from accusations of the sort. Their 350 new MPs are younger, more diverse than is usual in France – but they are newcomers in politics. Which is exactly why Macron had sought an alliance with experienced Bayrou in the first place.

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