US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Ghastly Outdated Party (New York Times)

Republicans are getting queasy at the gruesome sight of their party eating itself alive, says Maureen Dowd.

2. I work for Uncle Sam, and I'm proud of it (Washington Post)

It's time to stop bashing federal employees, writes Jason Ullner.

3. Halftime in Detroit (Wall Street Journal) (£)

Taxpayers will be paying for the auto bailouts for decades to come, writes George Melloan.

4. Obama's dream: To run against Santorum (Washington Post)

Rick Santorum is a good man. He's just a good man in the wrong century, says Kathleen Parker.

5. Fighting L.A.'s gangs with families (LA Times)

L.A. Deputy Mayor Guillermo Cespedes' effort to fight gangs is working, writes Jim Newton.

6. What ails Europe? (New York Times)

Why has Europe become the sick man of the world economy? Everyone knows the answer. Unfortunately, most of what people know isn't true, writes Paul Krugman.

7. Trickle-down environmentalism lacks public support (The Examiner)

When it comes to buying electric cars, the headlines may be about going green, but the reality is most Americans say they'll be motivated to go electric for a far more mundane reason: When the price of gas gets too high, they'll switch, writes Scott Rasmussen.

8. Obama policies threaten America's energy boom (Politico)

It's time for the president to stop stifling American energy and start encouraging the development of all our nation's energy resources, writes Sen. John Thune.

9. As Santorum rises, so does scrutiny (USA Today)

The spotlight has begun to give Santorum a difficult problem: the characteristic most responsible for his rise -- his authenticity as a social conservative -- is also his greatest vulnerability, says this editorial.

10. The enduring fallacy of the CEO president (Politico)

Disagreements are central to politics -- Does life begin at conception? Is health care a right? Should we end the Fed? But they are more foreign to business, writes John Paul Rollert.

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François Fillon's woes are good news for Marine Le Pen and Emmanuel Macron

It is too late for the Republicans to replace their scandal-tainted candidate.

It's that time of the week again: this week's Le Canard Enchaîné has more bad news for François Fillon, the beleagured centre-right candidate for the French presidency. This week's allegations: that he was paid $50,000 to organise a meeting between the head of the French oil company Total and Vladimir Putin.

The story isn't quite as scandalous as the ones that came before it: the fee was paid to Fillon's (legitimate) consultancy business but another week with a scandal about Fillon and money is good news for both Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen.

The bad news for the Republicans is that Fillon is on the ballot now: there is no getting off the train that they are on. Destination: blowing an election that was theirs to be won.

Who'll be the ultimate beneficiary of the centre-right's misery? Although Macron is in the box seat as far as the presidential race is concerned, that he hasn't been in frontline politics all that long means that he could still come unstuck. As his uncertain performance in the first debate showed he is more vulnerable than he looks, though that the polls defied the pundits - both in Britain and in France - and declared him the winner shows that his popularity and charisma means that he has a handy cushion to fall back on.

It looks all-but-certain that it will be Macron and Le Pen who face each other in the second round in May and Macron will be the overwhelming favourite in that contest.

It's still just about possible to envisage a perfect storm for Le Pen where Fillon declares that the choice between Macron and Le Pen is a much of a muchness as neither can equal his transformative programme for France, Macron makes some 11th-hour blunder which keeps his voters at home and a terrorist attack or a riot gets the National Front's voters fired up and to the polling stations for the second round.

But while it's possible he could still come unstuck, it looks likely that despite everything we've thought these last three years, the French presidency won't swing back to the right in 2017.

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