Those watching President Trump mingle with leaders of the United States' crucial European allies know that it's been a rocky road. From the NATO summit in Brussels to the G-7 summit in Italy, Trump's first appearance on the international stage has included a combative, inflammatory NATO speech and various instances of his maneuvering to be the center of attention. But here's another subplot for you: Trump also asked Emmanuel Macron for his phone number in a funny twist that shows his neediness towards the newly elected president of France.
It all started when the two first met at in Brussels earlier this week, first at a lunch meeting where Macron capably deflected Trump's notoriously jerky, aggressive handshake style. According to reports, Macron gripped Trump's hand so tight that their knuckles turned white, and he refused to let go even when Trump tried to pull away twice — a deft move, considering Trump's handshake style is sometimes portrayed as an old car salesman's trick, a way to impose a sense of dominance on the person he's jerking around.
Later in the day, Macron visibly snubbed Trump when he approached a crowd of foreign leaders. As Macron drew close, he veered away from POTUS at the last minute to give German chancellor Angela Merkel a hug instead.
During the French election, Trump offered neither an endorsement nor a positive word about Macron as a candidate, and although he didn't endorse his far-right rival Marine Le Pen either ― ever averse to be seen backing a loser, perhaps Trump was aware Le Pen was headed for a double-digit loss ― he did speak approvingly of her distinctly Trump-ian platform, especially her anti-immigration and anti-refugee stances. But in Brussels, according to a French official) Trump told Macron "you were my guy."
Perhaps Macron's rebukes played some part in Trump's pliant, needy tone? His request for Macron's cell phone number so that they could talk privately appears to be further evidence that Trump isn't the one calling the shots in this relationship. This wouldn't be noteworthy under normal circumstances, but given Trump's apparent insistence on being the biggest, strongest guy in the room, it's hard not to notice.
Needless to say, Trump and Macron are going to be seeing a lot more of each other over the next several years. In fact, because French presidents enjoy longer terms than their American counterparts do, it's possible that Macron's tenure in office will outlive Trump's.
Macron won't face re-election until 2022, more than a year after Trump would have left office if he were defeated in 2020. Of course, that assumes Trump makes it that far ― probably a safe assumption given a Republican-controlled Congress, but by no means assured if the Democrats have some seismic midterm elections in 2018.