US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Bain of His Existence (Slate)

GOP rivals level new and surprisingly devastating attacks on Romney's business record. John Dickerson discusses.

2. Guantánamo -- 10 years and counting (Miami Herald)

This editorial warns that Congress is moving backward in upholding civil liberties.

3. Will Independents Vote GOP In 2012? (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Survey data show it would be a mistake to assume that dissatisfaction with President Obama will translate into votes for GOP nominee. David Brady and Douglas Rivers investigate.

4. The power of super PACs (Washington Post)

This editorial looks at the power of super PACs and the dangerous fiction behind them.

5. Protecting Marine Protected Areas (Los Angeles Times)

This editorial writes that the state doesn't have nearly enough enforcement staff to ensure compliance, so various environmental groups are gearing up to watch over their local waters.

6. Where Are the Liberals? (New York Times)

All circumstances point to a golden age for liberalism. But the left is maxed out, David Brooks argues.

7. Ron Paul's social problem (San Francisco Chronicle)

This editorial argues that Ron Paul's opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as his criticism of Washington's war on drugs, has made him appealing to some voters who would otherwise never vote Republican.

8. The FCC, the Supreme Court and policing indecency (Los Angeles Times)

Punishing a broadcaster for inadvertent remarks over which it has no control makes no sense, this editorial states.

9. Please Hold the Cheese (New York Times)

The Republicans' double-debate weekend offered a vivid illustration of why Americans are so cynical about politicians, Frank Bruni writes.

10. Government employees' free speech on trial (Washington Times)

Mark Mix writes how the Supreme Court challenge strikes at the root of Big Labor's political clout.

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What does François Bayrou's endorsement of Emmanuel Macron mean for the French presidential race?

The support of the perennial candidate for President will boost Macron's morale but won't transform his electoral standing. 

François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Democratic Movement and a candidate for the French presidency in 2007 and 2012, has endorsed Emmanuel Macron’s bid for the presidency.

What does it mean for the presidential race?  Under the rules of the French electoral system, if no candidate secures more than half the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off.

Since 2013, Marine Le Pen has consistently led in the first round before going down to defeat in the second, regardless of the identity of her opponents, according to the polls.

However, national crises – such as terror attacks or the recent riots following the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man, who was sodomised with a police baton – do result in a boost for Le Pen’s standing, as does the ongoing “Penelopegate” scandal about the finances of the centre-right candidate, François Fillon.

Macron performs the most strongly of any candidate in the second round but struggles to make it into the top two in the first. Having eked out a clear lead in second place ahead of Fillon in the wake of Penelopegate, Macron’s lead has fallen back in recent polls after he said that France’s rule in Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

Although polls show that the lion’s share of Bayrou’s supporters flow to Macron without his presence in the race, with the rest going to Fillon and Le Pen, Macron’s standing has remained unchanged regardless of whether or not Bayrou is in the race or not. So as far as the electoral battlefield is concerned, Bayrou’s decision is not a gamechanger.

But the institutional support of the Democratic Movement will add to the ability of Macron’s new party, En Marche, to get its voters to the polls on election day, though the Democratic Movement has never won a vast number of deputies or regional elections. It will further add to the good news for Macron following a successful visit to London this week, and, his supporters will hope, will transform the mood music around his campaign.

But hopes that a similar pact between Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate, and Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front’s candidate, look increasingly slim, after Mélenchon said that joining up with the Socialists would be like “hanging himself to a hearse”. 

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