US press: pick of the papers

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

1. Pain without gain (New York Times)

We could actually do a lot to help our economies simply by reversing the destructive austerity of the last two years, writes Paul Krugman.

2. Iran as continual regional menace (Politico)

Tehren is likely to increase these terrorist activities, based on the belief that nuclear weapons could provide an umbrella and that its regional enemies are weak and irresolute, says Stephen Blank.

3. Is this the end of market democracy? (New York Times)

Thomas Edsall asks: What if the legitimacy of free market capitalism in America is facing fundamental challenges that the candidates and their parties are not addressing?

4. The super PAC confusion (Washington Post)

What it has done is compromise basic First Amendment rights, clutter politics with baffling laws and regulations and actually deepen cynicism, writes Robert Samuelson.

5. Political double standard: GOP astounds in its hypocrisy (Oregonian)

This Republican presidential campaign is demonstrating conclusively that there is an unbridgeable divide between the philosophical commitments conservative candidates make before they are elected and what they will have to do when faced with the day-to-day demands of practical governance, writes E.J. Dionne Jr.

6. Liberals vs. conservatives (Los Angeles Times)

I equate Republicans' political views with thoughtlessness, intolerance and narcissism, says Diana Wagman.

7. Conservatives vs. liberals (Los Angeles Times)

There is no "how" in talking to a liberal. You can't talk to a liberal, period, writes Charlotte Allen.

8. Teacher's right -- kids need to know history of n-word (Chicago Sun Times)

As Joan Rivers likes to say, "Can we talk?" Apparently not. Not when it comes to the n-word, says this editorial.

9. The lush Life (New York Post)

Should public employees be treated substantially better than everyone else? Asks this editorial.

10. Why Romney can, and should, win evangelical vote (USA Today)

Think values, not stereotypes. Plus, we're picking a president, not a pastor, argues Nancy French.

 

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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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