Why French Prez Emmanuel Macron Held His Own In Firm Handshake With Trump

Luca Bruno/AP

If it’s Friday, it’s time to analyze another round of the President of the United States’ domineering handshakes.

Trump has spent much of his young presidency’s photo-ops seemingly attempting to literally pull concessions out of his foreign counterparts, stretching elbows and triggering some grimaces along the way.

Thursday brought a new twist in Trump’s handshake hall of fame: the President met his match.

Appearing in a photo-op with the investment-banker-turned-French-President Emmanuel Macron, Trump found himself in a stone faced, white-knuckled stand-off. He attempted to release his hand not once, not twice, but three times. Macron, barely containing a triumphant smile, finally let go.

“They shook hands for an extended period of time,” the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker wrote in a pool report. “Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”

The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart took credit for warning France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, about Trump’s gamesmanship.

“‘Did you warn him about Trump’s handshakes?’ my philanthropist friend asked,” Capehart wrote Friday, recalling a party on Monday night. “A look of surprise popped on Araud’s face as he inquired what exactly did that mean. Both of us told him about Trump’s affinity for the alpha male, grab-and-pull power pump that always seemed to reduce the other person to a rag doll. Forewarned, Araud said he would alert Macron.”

Macron later head-faked Trump, choosing instead to greet German Chancellor Angela Merkel, then NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, and then, crossing back to his right, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, before turning to the American President.

Macron subsequently posted the evidence online:

Trump’s tough guy greeting ritual is by now well known. Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch offered an example when, as the President introduced him to the world as his nominee to the high court, Trump vigorously yanked on his arm.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rolled his eyes theatrically in response to a similar treatment.

But other world leaders have held their own, perhaps most notably Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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