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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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.