There's plenty to worry about in Washington, D.C., these days, and it's no secret that President Donald Trump's handshakes aren't exactly a top priority. Still, sometimes one needs a dose of levity. Plus, these handshakes have been hard to ignore as the president has been meeting with more and more foreign leaders, like Japanese Prime Minister and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Could we be one bad handshake away from an international crisis full of Twitter insults.
So, what's the deal? Some seem to think it has to do with Trump's attempts at achieving an alpha macho status with his peers. The New Republic's Alex Shephard wrote that Trump is "absolutely obsessed with power handshakes, which he thinks communicate dominance." They certainly appear to be far more than your typical power handshake. He literally pulls the other person toward him. Karen Bradley, a specialist in studying movement at the University of Maryland, told Mic that they're a sign of his "total lack of cultural intelligence [and] social skills." Another body language expert, Darren Stanton, told The Independent that "its purpose is to convey power and confidence to the other person, as if to say, ‘Hey I’m in charge, don’t mess with me.’" Both are likely true. But there are some other theories out there also.
1) They're To Renegotiate Trade Deals
Trudeau v Trump handshake analysis. This isn't trivial. pic.twitter.com/ERMERkDZSq— Adam Zwar (@adamzwar) February 13, 2017
Trudeau and Trump were up against each other and Trudeau held his ground. Maybe NAFTA is safe? Meanwhile, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), which Japan would have benefited from is already gone, and Abe's shake reflected that.
2) To Crush Bones Of Weaker Men
This Pakistani channel has legit been discussing Trump's handshake technique for half an hour now pic.twitter.com/7SfHMd562H— Nooruddean (@BeardedGenius) February 15, 2017
It's all about proving who's the strongest.
3) A Dark Spell Made Him Do It
I want to believe that when Trudeau defeated Trump's jerky handshake, the dark spell was finally broken. pic.twitter.com/IZGTF0XmeM— Jon Spaihts (@jonspaihts) February 15, 2017
Unlikely, sure. But we could be turning a corner here if so!
4) To Make America Laugh Again
Most things Trump has done lately are just plain scary. At least the handshakes everyone can enjoy.
5) To Make Canada Great Again
Justin Trudeau's handshake with Donald Trump was the 'biggest display of dominance in the history of Canada' pic.twitter.com/s6yC64qY7R— The Telegraph (@Telegraph) February 14, 2017
Or these years of awful, offensive handshakes were just a massive setup to make our northern neighbors look great!
6) Or To Later Give Putin A Message
I am massively looking forward to first Trump visit with Putin. The handshake will be must-see TV.— (((Charles Hawley))) (@charles_hawley) February 14, 2017
Maybe the build-up wasn't to Trudeau but rather Putin.
7) It's The Tiny Hand Complex
Trump compensates for tiny hands with a horrible handshake as he plays tug-of-war with Trudeau. pic.twitter.com/FOTHtFcCGN— DESUS & MERO (@desusandmero) February 14, 2017
That's what these Internet personalities think, anyway.
8) Because Trump Watched A TV Show About Politics Once
Perhaps, that's the only model he has seriously considered for being president and he's trying to emulate it.
9) There's Of Course This Creepy Theory
That we have to just hope is a joke.
10) It's From His Past Life In Sales
Trump's "handshake" is the kind of thing shit-tier salesmen learn in "high powered" salesman school. I see it in the wild pretty often.— Rym (@schezar) February 13, 2017
This one may actually make the most sense.
11) To Prevent Embarrassment Like This
Famous Donald Trump handshake moments #3417 pic.twitter.com/JbHbTHdUgw— Крис (@crk5) February 5, 2017
Just grab the hand to avoid looking silly and shake.
12) This A Quick Way To Feel Out The Competition
Trump uses this handshake to see if he can manipulate others right away. Esp if they say nothing about it. https://t.co/7zfOSFqscc— Citizen Katniss E. (@speakup110) February 4, 2017
The "yank and pull" can be read as "manipulative." Huge shocker there.
13) He Just Doesn't Know How
Donald Trump doesn't know how to do a handshake pic.twitter.com/rhcyWluocT— Liam (@_FoolOnAHill) February 3, 2017
Trump doesn't seem to have a handle on many of the other responsibilities he has as president. Maybe his handshake is just representative of that.
14) He's A Bully
There you have it folks. It's some sort of power play for dominance over the competition. It doesn't matter that everyone's arm he's shaking so far belongs to the leader of an ally country.
As Bart Rossi, a political psychologist, explained to Mic, it might be a narcissistic, egocentric trait that's now playing out on the world diplomacy stage. "Trump loves to exaggerate and attempt to make everything look wonderful for himself. In short, it is a good example of how he can further self-promote himself," Rossi told Mic.
It may have worked great in business, but let's hope it doesn't screw things up in government.