Trump Finally Met His Match In The Handshake Game

by Kelly Tunney
AFP/AFP/Getty Images

Trump's first trip abroad as president has been riddled with bizarre moments. There was that spooky gathering around a glowing orb in Saudi Arabia. There were First Lady Melania Trump's not-so-subtle efforts to evade her husband's touch. And in Brussels, it was French President Emmanuel Macron's power handshake with Trump that made headlines on Thursday.

In the footage of the handshake, you see Trump attempting to remove his hand several times before Macron lets him go. Macron stares intently at Trump while continuing to grip his hand. It certainly looks like a very tense exchange. The Washington Post's Philip Rucker described their knuckles turning white, their jaws clenching, and their faces tight, which is quite the description.

Perhaps some tension has formed between two of the world's newest presidents? Macron became the youngest French president in history in early May when he defeated far-right candidate Marine Le Pen in the May 7 election. After all, Trump called Le Pen the "strongest on borders," though he did not fully endorse her as a candidate. According to the Post, Trump also complimented Macron on his election victory during their meeting.

Surprisingly, this wasn't even one of Trump's most awkward handshakes. He's known for the strange hold-and-pull handshake technique — like when he introduced Neil Gorsuch as his pick for the Supreme Court. Trump grabbed Gorsuch's hand, shook it, then pulled it toward himself. Other awkward Trump handshakes have occurred with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (in which Trump patted his hand), Vice President Mike Pence, and even Kanye West.

Trump also has a strange history of ignoring handshake opportunities. In March during their meeting at the White House, German Chancellor Angela Merkel attempted to shake Trump's hand but was left hanging; either he didn't hear her or plain ignored the request.

What's most amazing is that Trump's awkward handshake behavior actually predates his presidency. Trump has been deploying the "pull-in" handshake for years — it just wasn't until he became president and we had to watch him perform it with world leaders and staff that it became such a big deal.

Perhaps the White House can designate someone to rehearse handshakes with Trump so that these instances can be reduced? It seems silly to be distracted with such a minor issue when Trump's administration has pushed so many dangerous legislation and policy so far, but it's difficult not to notice these truly bizarre occurrences during Trump's presidency.