US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. My Tax and Spending Reform Plan (Wall Street Journal)

"Individuals will have the option of paying a 20 per cent flat-rate income tax and I'll cap spending at 18 per cent of GDP," writes Republican presidential hopeful, Rick Perry.

2. Obama should give press access to his fundraisers (San Francisco Chronicle)

The Obama White House's restrictions on media access to its fundraising events makes a mockery of its claim to be the most transparent administration in history, argues this editorial.

3. Living dirt poor (Chicago Tribune)

Urged on by Occupy Chicago and the other protest movements, Dennis Byrne considers gauging misery and despair among the nation's destitute.

4. Will Amazon Kill Off Publishers? (New York Times)

What happens when more writers have the option of a one-stop shop: agent, publisher and bookseller? Authors and publishers debate.

5. The Beauty of Institutions (New York Times)

The European Union was not created to deliver Europeans to postmodern bliss but to prevent another hell. It's doing just that, says Roger Cohen.

6. George Clooney is wrong on politics (Politico)

Martin Frost asks: In Ides of March, has the actor produced and directed a movie that might depress turnout in 2012?

7. Too hot to ignore (Washington Post)

Eugene Robinson considers the scientific finding that settles the climate-change debate.

8. 9-9-no way (Washington Times)

Herman Cain's plan raises a constitutional conundrum, concedes Milton R. Wolf.

9. American imperialism? Please (Los Angeles Times)

The upside to the US leaving Iraq is that it should quell the nonsensical talk about empire-building, writes Jonah Goldberg.

10. The revolution now in Silicon Valley (Houston Chronicle)

While Wall Street is being rattled by a social revolution, Silicon Valley is being by transformed by another technology revolution, says Thomas Freidman -- one that is taking the world from connected to hyperconnected and individuals from empowered to superempowered.

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Donald Trump is the Republican nominee. What now?

So a Clinton-Trump general election is assured – a historically unpopular match-up based on their current favourability ratings.

That’s it. Ted Cruz bowed out of the Republican presidential race last night, effectively handing the nomination to Donald Trump. “From the beginning I’ve said that I would continue on as long as there was a viable path to victory,” Cruz said. “Tonight, I’m sorry to say it appears that path has been foreclosed.”

What foreclosed his path was his sizeable loss to Trump in Indiana. Cruz had bet it all on the Hoosier State, hoping to repeat his previous Midwest victories in Iowa and Wisconsin. He formed a pact with John Kasich, whereby Kasich left the anti-Trump field clear for Cruz in Indiana in return for Cruz not campaigning in Oregon and New Mexico. He announced Carly Fiorina as his vice-presidential nominee last week, hoping the news would give him a late boost.

It didn’t work. Donald Trump won Indiana handily, with 53 per cent of the vote to Cruz’s 37 per cent. Trump won all of the state’s nine congressional districts, and so collected all 57 of the convention delegates on offer. He now has 1,014 delegates bound to him on the convention’s first ballot, plus 34 unbound delegates who’ve said they’ll vote for him (according to Daniel Nichanian’s count).

That leaves Trump needing just 189 more to hit the 1,237 required for the nomination – a number he was very likely to hit in the remaining contests before Cruz dropped out (it’s just 42 per cent of the 445 available), and that he is now certain to achieve. No need to woo more unbound delegates. No contested convention. No scrambling for votes on the second ballot. 

Though Bernie Sanders narrowly won the Democratic primary in Indiana, he’s still 286 pledged delegates short of Hillary Clinton. He isn’t going to win the 65 per cent of remaining delegates he’d need to catch up. Clinton now needs just 183 more delegates to reach the required 2,383. Like Trump, she is certain to reach that target on 7 June when a number of states vote, including the largest: California.

So a Clinton-Trump general election is assured – a historically unpopular match-up based on their current favourability ratings. But while Clinton is viewed favourably by 42 per cent of voters and unfavourably by 55%, Trump is viewed favourably by just 35 per cent and unfavourably by a whopping 61 per cent. In head-to-head polling (which isn’t particularly predictive this far from election day), Clinton leads with 47 per cent to Trump’s 40 per cent. Betting markets make Clinton the heavy favourite, with a 70 per cent chance of winning the presidency in November.

Still, a few questions that remain as we head into the final primaries and towards the party conventions in July: how many Republican officeholders will reluctantly endorse Trump, how many will actively distance themselves from him, and how many will try to remain silent? Will a conservative run as an independent candidate against Trump in the general election? Can Trump really “do presidential” for the next six months, as he boasted recently, and improve on his deep unpopularity?

And on the Democratic side: will Sanders concede gracefully and offer as full-throated an endorsement of Clinton as she did of Barack Obama eight years ago? It was on 7 June 2008 that she told her supporters: “The way to continue our fight now, to accomplish the goals for which we stand is to take our energy, our passion, our strength, and do all we can to help elect Barack Obama, the next president of the United States.” Will we hear something similar from Sanders next month? 

Jonathan Jones writes for the New Statesman on American politics.