US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Romney, an executive in chief? (Los Angeles Times)

Does experience in the business world really make for a better president? History suggests there's no link, argues Walter Zelman.

2. 'Buffett Tax' and truth in numbers (Washington Post)

Whatever else they are, the super-rich have now become political props, says Robert J. Samuelson.

3. How conservatives lost their moral compass (Politico)

Over the past 40 years, as conservatives have complained, this nation has undergone a moral revolution. It's just not the one they think, writes Neal Gabler.

4. A Mormon church in need of reform (Washington Post)

The church's distrust of outsiders, dissidents must end, says Carrie Sheffield.

5. Apple, not manufacturing, is America's future (Boston Globe) (£)

If we want the next technological revolution to start here, politicians need to change their industrial-age view, argues John E. Sununu.

6. New Strategy, Old Pentagon Budget (New York Times)

The cuts in the Pentagon's spending are not cuts at all, just Washington budget games, says this editorial.

7. RomneyCare and ObamaCare (Wall Street Journal)

Mitt Romney's vulnerability on health care may not cost him the nomination, but it could cost him in November, writes Paul Gigot.

8. Is compassionate conservatism dead? (USA Today)

The Republican presidential candidates competing for the affections of Florida voters have plenty of labels with which to tar each other, says Amy Sullivan.

9. Gingrich's link to Reagan comes under scrutiny (San Francisco Chronicle)

No Republican has claimed the mantle of the late president, former California governor and GOP icon Ronald Reagan with more unabashed relish than former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, says Carolyn Lochead.

10. The Austerity Debacle (New York Times)

In Britain and elsewhere, the policy elite decided to throw that hard-won knowledge out the window, and rely on ideologically convenient wishful thinking instead, writes Paul Krugman.

Photo: Getty
Show Hide image

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.