US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. A State of the Possible plan for Obama (Los Angeles Times)

Given the likelihood of resistance from Republicans in Congress, the president should devote his energies to meaningful but less polarizing measures that could help the economy, says this editorial.

2. How Gingrich's unruly mind could benefit Obama (Washington Post)

Where is the Democratic Gingrich? Asks Richard Cohen.

3. Newtzilla conquers all? (Los Angeles Times)

Newt Gingrich has remarkable healing powers, and his atomic breath is formidable. Will it be enough? Asks Jonah Goldberg.

4. Romney and the Burden of Double Taxation (Wall Street Journal)

The disclosure of tax returns can be a teachable moment for the GOP candidates, John Berlau and Trey Kovacs argue.

5. Newt Gingrich is no Saul Alinsky (Politico)

If Saul Alinsky weren't already dead, he'd die to get a piece of Newt Gingrich, writes Nicholas Von Hoffman.

6. Obama needs fiscal 'courage' (USA Today)

The president's State of the Union Tuesday night, and his budget submission to follow, could be his last chance to rally the country behind needed reform, argues Sen. Jeff Sessions.

7. SOTU or campaign speech? (Politico)

The congressional podium is not a campaign stump, writes Reince Priebus.

8. TSA's intrusions undermine security (Washington Times)

Senator or not, we're all stripped of our freedom and dignity, says Sen. Rand Paul.

9. On this night, boring Mr. Safe was brilliant (New York Post)

The prospect of being flattened by the Newt Gingrich steamroller wonderfully concentrated Mitt Romney's mind during last night's NBC debate, says John Podhoretz.

10. Romney Can't Rumble (New York Times)

Mitt Romney just doesn't know how to rumble, argues Charles M. Blow.

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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.