US press: pick of the papers

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

1. The GOP scrambles for a bogeyman (Washington Post)

Twenty years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, one thing is increasingly clear: Boy, do the Republicans miss communism, writes Harold Meyerson.

2. Those mudslinging Republicans (Los Angeles Times)

Santorum's next up, but the negativity is turning independents against all the GOP candidates, says Doyle McManus.

3. Obama's Palestine Test (Wall Street Journal)

Will the U.S. send money to a government that includes Hamas? Asks this editorial.

4. The forgotten swing voter (Politico)

Mitt Romney's loss to Rick Santorum in Colorado, Minnesota and Missouri demonstrates that the former Massachusetts governor is still not connecting to the electorate and has yet to offer a positive vision for how he would govern the country, writes Douglas E. Schoen.

5. Why the U.S. should resist stoking the chaos in Cairo (Washington Post)

Cutting off U.S. aid would only worsen the situation, argues David Ignatius.

6. What Davos, Occupy have in common (Politico)

There could be a surprising amount of common ground between the demonstrators marching outside the conference and those in the meetings, says Tim Roemer.

7. Occupiers' dangerous, desperate last move? (Washington Times)

Disrupting CPAC will only expose discredited leftist ideology, says David A. Keene.

8. CPS must learn from successful turnarounds (Chicago Sun Times)

A seminal report hit the Chicago Public Schools last fall like a ton of bricks, writes this editorial.

9. Tales From the Kitchen Table (New York Times)

This is a really old story, but let me tell you anyway, writes Gail Collins.

10. Will more money buy an Alzheimer's cure? (Los Angeles Times)

In a long-sought breakthrough, the Obama administration is proposing a dramatic increase in federal funding for Alzheimer's research, says this editorial.

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What does François Bayrou's endorsement of Emmanuel Macron mean for the French presidential race?

The support of the perennial candidate for President will boost Macron's morale but won't transform his electoral standing. 

François Bayrou, the leader of the centrist Democratic Movement and a candidate for the French presidency in 2007 and 2012, has endorsed Emmanuel Macron’s bid for the presidency.

What does it mean for the presidential race?  Under the rules of the French electoral system, if no candidate secures more than half the vote in the first round, the top two go through to a run-off.

Since 2013, Marine Le Pen has consistently led in the first round before going down to defeat in the second, regardless of the identity of her opponents, according to the polls.

However, national crises – such as terror attacks or the recent riots following the brutal arrest of a 22-year-old black man, who was sodomised with a police baton – do result in a boost for Le Pen’s standing, as does the ongoing “Penelopegate” scandal about the finances of the centre-right candidate, François Fillon.

Macron performs the most strongly of any candidate in the second round but struggles to make it into the top two in the first. Having eked out a clear lead in second place ahead of Fillon in the wake of Penelopegate, Macron’s lead has fallen back in recent polls after he said that France’s rule in Algeria was a “crime against humanity”.

Although polls show that the lion’s share of Bayrou’s supporters flow to Macron without his presence in the race, with the rest going to Fillon and Le Pen, Macron’s standing has remained unchanged regardless of whether or not Bayrou is in the race or not. So as far as the electoral battlefield is concerned, Bayrou’s decision is not a gamechanger.

But the institutional support of the Democratic Movement will add to the ability of Macron’s new party, En Marche, to get its voters to the polls on election day, though the Democratic Movement has never won a vast number of deputies or regional elections. It will further add to the good news for Macron following a successful visit to London this week, and, his supporters will hope, will transform the mood music around his campaign.

But hopes that a similar pact between Benoît Hamon, the Socialist Party candidate, and Jean-Luc Jean-Luc Mélenchon, the Left Front’s candidate, look increasingly slim, after Mélenchon said that joining up with the Socialists would be like “hanging himself to a hearse”. 

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