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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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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