US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Care To Meet for a Cheap Drink? (Slate)

Jacob Weisber on what he learned from Christopher Hitchens.

2. Iraq war divided America but freed millions from Saddam (New York Daily News)

"Welcome home. Welcome home. Welcome home."

3. Gingrich's invented history (Politico)

Republican frontrunner Newt Gingrich's recent remarks that the Palestinians are an "invented" people, all of whom are "terrorists," are far from historical truth- but more damaging than Gingrich's rewriting of history is the negative effect of his political posturing, writes Wendy Chamberlin.

4. Iowa Republican debate: Newt's still on top, Romney steadies himself (Washington Post)

E.J. Dionne Jr. on Thursday's debate in Sioux City, Iowa.

5. Obama's hubris is obvious in conflicting statements (Omaha World Herald)

President Barack Obama doesn't suffer from amnesia, but he apparently hopes the public does, writes Cal Thomas.

6. New clinic rules will harm women's health (Philadelphia Inquirer)

Gov. Corbett should carefully consider the consequences and refuse to sign legislation that would roll back women's ability to obtain safe abortions.

7. Huntsman? Stranger things have happened (Denver Post)

All things seem possible in the Republican presidential contest- so, E.J. Dionne asks, is there another turn coming that could benefit Jon Huntsman?

8. No way to conduct people's business (Miami Herald)

In the usual frenzy before the holidays, lawmakers in Washington have once again packed a variety of questionable proposals - including one affecting travel to Cuba - into a huge bundle of legislation.

9. Medicare con: The problem is producing more medical grads, not increasing medicare fees for doctors (Oregonian)

The latest scare tactic by right-wing opponents of the Affordable Care Act aims at convincing Americans that reasonable trims in Medicare spending will make it very difficult for seniors to find a good doctor in coming years, according to Wayne Madsen.

10. Obama foreign policy: When 'reset' means setbacks (Oregonian)

Obama demonstrated decisiveness in killing Osama bin Laden, but forgoing a non-option says nothing about the soundness of one's foreign policy, writes Charles Krauthammer.

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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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