US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Let's All Feel Superior (New York Times)

The general reaction to the Penn State atrocity has been self-righteous and dishonest. We should all take a look at our propensity to self-deceive, says David Brooks.

2. Why Obama Is Beating the GOP Field (Washington Post)

Republicans aren't closing the deal with voters, finds Eugene Robinson.

3. The New Progressive Movement (New York Times)

Economist Jeffrey Sachs writes: "As before in history, the moment has arrived when people just can't take it anymore."

4. A manifesto for progressive-conservatives (Dallas Morning News) ($)

William McKenzie feels that those, like him, who believe in progressive social values and conservative economics won't have a satisfying presidential candidate come next November.

5. Will partisanship shape the healthcare ruling? (Los Angeles Times)

The Supreme Court has agreed to decide the constitutionality of the individual mandate. Erwin Chemerinsky asks whether the judges see the issue in terms of legal precedent or partisanship.

6. Geography as destiny (Politico)

David Dante Troutt writes that the sprawl of inequity and the reduction of opportunity offend basic American values.

7. Mississippi makes a statement on moral clarity (Detroit Free Press)

The nation's most conservative state has conceded there is something totalitarian in the idea the state can force a woman to bear a child she does not wish to bear, writes Leonard Pitts Jr.

8. Stop-and-frisk is the wrong approach: There are more humane ways to combat crime (New York Daily News)

David Kennedy argues it is time for the NYPD and other departments to attack violence with a coordinated strategy.

9. Family care cuts should be reversed (Star Tribune)

Heaping cuts on relatives who care for disabled is unfair, argues this editorial.

10. Congress Backslides on School Reform (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Kevin Chavous blames the regression on a strange, harmful alliance between the tea party and the teachers unions.

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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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