US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. The Lost Decade? (New York Times)

Insular thinking and rigid ideas are holding the United States back from productive engagement with its most important problems, says David Brooks.

2. Immigration rhetoric ignores trends (USA Today)

The crackdown on illegal immigration is disconnected from reality and already producing unintended consequences, argues this editorial.

3. Republicans playing politics with disaster relief (St. Petersburg Times)

Providing fellow citizens with a safe place to sleep, clean water and other basics should not be held hostage to a political circus, says this editorial.

4. A bear of a problem for Obama (Los Angeles Times)

Obama has angered America's silent majority, says Jonah Goldberg, and his base is not happy with him either.

5. Even the Muppets know America needs science (Chicago Sun Times)

With Bachmann's latest comments on medical vaccines, Sesame Street's science agenda couldn't come at a better time, says this editorial.

6. Why Christie should run for President (Washington Post)

Rick Perry's recent stumbles have re-started speculation that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie might re-think his "no-go" decision. Chris Cillizza lists the three reasons for him -- and three against.

7. Everyone's a Little Bit Racist (Wall Street Journal)

Even the first black president, says James Taranto -- to hear Maxine Waters tell it.

8. The genius of Vladimir Putin (Washington Post)

He is a great czar, if not a great man, argues Ralph Peters.

9. The Chris Christie infatuation (Washington Times)

Fundraising tour stokes hope that N.J. governor will run for president, writes Emily Miller.

10. Rick Perry is making me swoon (New York Daily News)

Richard Cohen explains why he can't help liking the "big Texas lug".

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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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