US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Tea Party on the left? (Washington Post)

Liberals can help show that Obama is a centrist, says E. J. Dionne.

2. Watch out for Putin, and Russia (Los Angeles Times)

The country is headed for a dead end, says Leon Aron, as it seems likely Vladimir Putin will regain the presidency. The U.S. should be prepared for that.

3. Florida Republicans for Obama (Wall Street Journal)

Elites try to truncate the presidential primary contests, writes this editorial.

4. Insurers aren't playing fair (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Health insurance companies appear to be ratcheting up premiums to pad their profits before more elements of the federal health-care reform kick in, says this editorial.

5. The University of Wherever (New York Times)

Bill Keller asks: Can technology provide an elite education for the masses?

6. On gay marriage, state is out of step (Star Tribune)

Under the laws that apply to everyone, Minnesota's GLBT couples deserve the same rights as every other American, states this editorial.

7. Health care reforms are working (St. Petersburg Times)

Health insurance security for young adults has markedly increased. The Supreme Court should uphold the law and let the reforms continue, argues this editorial.

8. Adults Dither as Schools, Unions Fail Children (Roll Call)

Dismal news about U.S. public education keeps tumbling in, but Congress seems unable to act, writes Morton M. Kondracke. Republican presidential candidates, too, seem determined to have America keep slipping behind the rest of the world.

9. Public burned by solar loans (Boston Globe)

If private sector funding is available, the government should get out of the way; if not, there's no reason taxpayers should take the risk, argues John E. Sununu.

10. Midwest turns against Obama (Washington Times)

One of the most important facts to remember heading into the election year, says Brett M. Decker, is that President Obama could not even defend his own Senate seat in 2010.

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Donald Trump's inauguration signals the start of a new and more unstable era

A century in which the world's hegemonic power was a rational actor is about to give way to a more terrifying reality. 

For close to a century, the United States of America has been the world’s paramount superpower, one motivated by, for good and for bad, a rational and predictable series of motivations around its interests and a commitment to a rules-based global order, albeit one caveated by an awareness of the limits of enforcing that against other world powers.

We are now entering a period in which the world’s paramount superpower is neither led by a rational or predictable actor, has no commitment to a rules-based order, and to an extent it has any guiding principle, they are those set forward in Donald Trump’s inaugural: “we will follow two simple rules: hire American and buy American”, “from this day forth, it’s going to be America first, only America first”.

That means that the jousting between Trump and China will only intensify now that he is in office.  The possibility not only of a trade war, but of a hot war, between the two should not be ruled out.

We also have another signal – if it were needed – that he intends to turn a blind eye to the actions of autocrats around the world.

What does that mean for Brexit? It confirms that those who greeted the news that an US-UK trade deal is a “priority” for the incoming administration, including Theresa May, who described Britain as “front of the queue” for a deal with Trump’s America, should prepare themselves for disappointment.

For Europe in general, it confirms what should already been apparent: the nations of Europe are going to have be much, much more self-reliant in terms of their own security. That increases Britain’s leverage as far as the Brexit talks are concerned, in that Britain’s outsized defence spending will allow it acquire goodwill and trade favours in exchange for its role protecting the European Union’s Eastern border.

That might allow May a better deal out of Brexit than she might have got under Hillary Clinton. But there’s a reason why Trump has increased Britain’s heft as far as security and defence are concerned: it’s because his presidency ushers in an era in which we are all much, much less secure. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.