US Press: pick of the papers

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

1. The false Iran debate (New York Times)

In this sense, the whole Iran debate - with its receding "red lines," its shifting "zones of immunity," its threats and counter-threats, its bad metaphors and worse similes - is false, writes Roger Cohen.

2. What Could Be Next in the Race for President? (Roll Call)

Increasingly, former Speaker Newt Gingrich has become the Mr. Irrelevant in the GOP race for the presidential nomination, says Stuart Rothenberg.

3. Europe According to Hayek (Wall Street Journal) ($)

Twenty years after his death, the Austrian thinker still offers the most compelling explanation for the meltdown of the welfare state, writes Alberto Mingardi.

4. The economy, generically oversimplified (The Boston Globe) ($)

With the US economy steadily improving, Romney is now arguing that the recovery would be stronger but for the president's policies. Yet Romney would sound more convincing if his indictment of Obama weren't so familiar and generic, writes Scot Lehigh

5. Stand Your Ground tramples justice (Politico)

Trayvon Martin, a black child of 17, died at the invisible intersection of racial hatred and hating government, writes David Dante Troutt

6. The Descent of Hungary (Wall Street Journal)

How much can the European Union, by law a club of democracies, actually do to stop a freely elected government within its borders from turning its democracy into an autocracy? asks Raymond Zhong

7. When Did Hoodlums Start Wearing Hoods? (Slate)

London was plagued by young, unsupervised apprentice boys during the 12th century. They were always rioting over some political or religious issue, and they often wore hoods to hide their identities, says Brian Palmer

8. Ryan's challenge, Part 2 (Chicago Tribune)

By tackling entitlement costs, Paul Ryan asks Americans to choose their nation's future, says this Editorial.

9. Paranoia Strikes Deeper (New York Times)

Whatever Mr. Romney may personally believe, the fact is that by endorsing the right's paranoid fantasies, he is helping to further a dangerous trend in America's political life, writes Paul Krugman.

10. General Optimism (Slate)

Gen. John Allen believes that America will prevail in Afghanistan, writes Fred Kaplan

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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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