US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. Moralizer in Chief? (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Americans are open to candidates of faith. Less so to any hint they might impose their moral views if they're elected, argues Kimberley A. Strassel.

2. Gulf War III isn't an option (Washington Post)

Attacking Iran would not be a wise move, writes Eugene Robinson.

3. Obama's Iran options (Washington Post)

If negotiations fail, containment will not work, says Michael Gerson.

4. Santorum's faith is too extreme (Boston Globe) ($)

Although Rick Santorum says he's not running for pastor-in-chief, the Republican primary campaign has revealed a candidate too governed by faith to lead a diverse country, argues Scot Lehigh.

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

Is it safe to assume that a successful CEO is uniquely prepared to be president? Asks John Paul Rollert.

6. America Is Europe (New York Times)

The U.S. does not have a significantly smaller welfare state than the European nations. We're just better at hiding it, writes David Brooks.

7. In praise of war correspondents (Los Angeles Times)

The deaths of Marie Colvin, Anthony Shadid and other journalists is tragic. But to pull back from war zones would leave untold the stories that must be chronicled, says Timothy M. Phelps.

8. Romney's tax plan follows Reagan's vision (Washington Examiner)

Mitt Romney took an immensely positive step earlier this week when he announced a proposal to cut tax rates 20 percent for all individual taxpayers, says this editorial.

9. The elderly should share the burden (Tampa Bay Times)

One hallmark of the Obama administration's budget policy has been to exempt the elderly from major cuts, writes Robert Samuelson.

10. Marriage equality working way toward Supreme Court (San Francisco Chronicle)

Courtrooms across the country are sending an unmistakable message: Laws barring equal treatment of same sex couples are unconstitutional, says this editorial.

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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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