At Thursday's working lunch between President Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron, the two alpha males engaged in a lengthy, forceful, bizarre handhold for the cameras. Once those photos made it out of Brussels, Twitter pounced on the Trump-Macron handshake and meme-d them for all they were worth.
The Washington Post's Philip Rucker was in the room during the meeting, and he described the handshake in extraordinary detail:
Rucker also observed that Macron's handshake was an indication to Trump that he was "not the only alpha in the room." (In footage of the handshake, Trump indeed appears to try to pull away multiple times before Macron, 30 years his junior, finally lets go.)
Trump's unusual handshake technique preceded his presidency, but since his election, they've taken center stage in his meetings with other world leaders. Some argue that Trump uses his handshakes to assert masculinity and dominance, but like his Canadian counterpart Justin Trudeau (who skillfully evaded a potential awkward handhold himself), Macron saw it coming — and Twitter users could not be more amused.
Watch the original video of the handshake that generated tweets and memes all over social media.
Not Even Trump
A True Alpha
Macron has the Gorilla Mindset. A true alpha. pic.twitter.com/29QGkYB4oB— Ryan Broderick (@broderick) May 25, 2017
The world is still not sure what to make of Macron, who defeated the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen by a significant margin in France's recent presidential election. But when it comes to handshakes, Twitter is convinced that he knows what he's doing.
Just A Normal Handshake?
just a completely normal handshake between two men pic.twitter.com/H8ziROSPLv— David Mack (@davidmackau) May 25, 2017
Best thing about this is not the handshake itself but Macron acting like it's totally normal 👋🏼 pic.twitter.com/nE15KO84yt— Miriam Elder (@MiriamElder) May 25, 2017
What's almost funnier than the handshake itself is Macron's reaction to it. Not only does he look pleased with himself, but also he manages to make the whole thing seem unabashedly normal.
Another Victory For Macron
Here's that handshake again... France 1: Les Etats Unis 0 pic.twitter.com/gFySjOM6OZ— John Fraher (@johnfraher) May 25, 2017
Macron is literally crushing Trump's hand in the battle of the NATO handshakes. There's a new kid in town.... pic.twitter.com/sSZKSGIpdi— John Fraher (@johnfraher) May 25, 2017
As far as Twitter users are concerned, Macron "won" the handshake in every possible way, from his impossibly tight grip to his rather nonchalant expression.
This was an important moment for Macron, who during his campaign took a decisive stance against Trump's dismissive attitude toward climate change by inviting American scientists to France. Indeed, during their working lunch, Macron reminded Trump that "we have an extremely large agenda to discuss: the fight against terrorism, the economy, climate and energy."
Unfortunately for Macron, the world seems to care more about his handshake than his climate policy, but going viral on Twitter is definitely a good way to get people to pay attention to you. Plus, he gave the Internet a brand new excuse to talk about Trump and his hands again, so he definitely has social media users interested.
The photogs noticed that Trump and Macron were gripping their hands hard and in photo below Trump seems to just want his hand back. https://t.co/XRwidrDS1B— Steve Holland (@steveholland1) May 25, 2017
As for Trump, he may have gotten his hand back for now, but as other world leaders figure out how to defeat his masculine displays of dominance, it grows less likely that he'll regain control of his public image — and more likely that he will continue to be the subject of the internet's favorite memes.