US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Newt Gingrich and the revenge of the base (Washington Post)

E.J. Dionne Jr. on the fear and loathing of GOP establishmentarians toward Newt Gingrich.

2. Capitalism and the right to rise (Wall Street Journal)

In freedom lies the risk of failure. But in statism lies the certainty of stagnation, writes Jeb Bush.

3. Why mandated health insurance is unfair (Wall Street Journal)

John C. Goodman questions whether a mandate is a good idea.

4. Recession reveals cruelty and failure of 'welfare reform' (St. Louis Today)

The creeping pace of recovery from the recession of 2007-2009 continues to keep unemployment persistently high and inflict significant pain on people and families throughout the country, this Editorial argues.

5. Holding the line against mercury (Detroit Free Press)

So far, the Obama administration has held fast to its plan to enforce mercury limits on coal-burning power plants. That's a good - and long overdue - step, according to editorial staff at Detroit Free Press.

6.Government and bond markets: Huge debts make a mockery of Keynes' remedies (Oregonian)

Robert J. Samuelson on the eclipse of Keynesian economics.

7. A clear winner (Chicago Tribune)

The GOP debates have been a boon, this Editorial argues.

8. Saving face (Slate)

Evgeny Morozov examines how Google, Facebook, and other tech companies hide behind "opt-in" policies.

9. Can you text 'draconian' while driving? (Washington Post)

Safety officials could lobby for what works, but they went for what satisfies, writes Dana Milbank.

10. A deliberative convention (Weekly Standard)

Once every three-quarters of a century or so, the delegates to an American political convention deliberate, and produce an impressive outcome. William Kristol thinks it could happen again in 2012.

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Emmanuel Macron can win - but so can Marine Le Pen

Macron is the frontrunner, but he remains vulnerable to an upset. 

French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron is campaigning in the sixth largest French city aka London today. He’s feeling buoyed by polls showing not only that he is consolidating his second place but that the voters who have put him there are increasingly comfortable in their choice

But he’ll also be getting nervous that those same polls show Marine Le Pen increasing her second round performance a little against both him and François Fillon, the troubled centre-right candidate. Her slight increase, coming off the back of riots after the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man and Macron’s critical comments about the French empire in Algeria is a reminder of two things: firstly the potential for domestic crisis or terror attack to hand Le Pen a late and decisive advantage.  Secondly that Macron has not been doing politics all that long and the chance of a late implosion on his part cannot be ruled out either.

That many of his voters are former supporters of either Fillon or the Socialist Party “on holiday” means that he is vulnerable should Fillon discover a sense of shame – highly unlikely but not impossible either – and quit in favour of a centre-right candidate not mired in scandal. And if Benoît Hamon does a deal with Jean-Luc Mélenchon – slightly more likely that Fillon developing a sense of shame but still unlikely – then he could be shut out of the second round entirely.

What does that all mean? As far as Britain is concerned, a Macron or Fillon presidency means the same thing: a French government that will not be keen on an easy exit for the UK and one that is considerably less anti-Russian than François Hollande’s. But the real disruption may be in the PR battle as far as who gets the blame if Theresa May muffs Brexit is concerned.

As I’ve written before, the PM doesn’t like to feed the beast as far as the British news cycle and the press is concerned. She hasn’t cultivated many friends in the press and much of the traditional rightwing echo chamber, from the press to big business, is hostile to her. While Labour is led from its leftmost flank, that doesn’t much matter. But if in the blame game for Brexit, May is facing against an attractive, international centrist who shares much of the prejudices of May’s British critics, the hope that the blame for a bad deal will be placed solely on the shoulders of the EU27 may turn out to be a thin hope indeed.

Implausible? Don’t forget that people already think that Germany is led by a tough operator who gets what she wants, and think less of David Cameron for being regularly outmanoeuvered by her – at least, that’s how they see it. Don’t rule out difficulties for May if she is seen to be victim to the same thing from a resurgent France.

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