In what has become an almost rote part of Donald Trump's meetings with foreign leaders, the U.S. president had an incredibly bizarre handshake with Emmanuel Macron. It was not so much a handshake as an attempt to mutually absorb one another via skin contact. A few months ago, the two leaders shared their first tense handshake, with what looked like a tight squeeze and strained faces. The French president said that was part of a deliberate attempt to exert his dominance over Trump, because that's apparently how things work for these two people who literally have the ability to blow up entire cities with weapons that horrified their creators whenever they want.
This handshake followed another weird moment yesterday, when Trump held hands with Macron's wife, Brigitte, and, unprompted, told her, "You're in such good shape." It also follows an even weirder moment where the U.S. president made his country a pariah by pulling out of the near-unanimous international Paris climate accords, reportedly because he felt slighted by Macron's tough-guy handshake.
Friday's handshake, awkward as it was, seemed to be less tense and antagonistic than the one shared by Trump upon their first meeting in May. In numerous ways, it seems that this visit by Trump to France reflects some level of detente between him and a new French president whose opponent he had previously implicitly supported. He reportedly told Macron on this visit that "something could happen" with regard to the U.S. pull-out from the Paris agreement.
There are numerous other issues at play in American-French diplomacy, such as the resolution of the Syrian Civil War and fate of Bashar Al-Assad; the ongoing war against ISIS, featuring both American and French fighters, which recently had a major victory in the Iraqi city of Mosul; military spending requirements under NATO, which Trump has claimed France doesn't do enough of; and cyberattacks against both countries' most recent elections. Additionally, refugees and migrants have affected much of European politics, and while Trump has staked out a resolutely nationalist, anti-immigrant perspective, Macron has tried to portray his France as open to the world.
Anyway, enough of that. Here's a French marching band playing Daft Punk:
What happens next for the Macron-Trump relationship? Will they shake hands again? Will they hold hands, and look out at the sunset, and whisper to each other, "I never thought I'd find someone like you"? Will one of them break the other's fingers next time their digits wrestle? Will they exchange long protein strands?
Will they agree on a new framework where America re-enters the Paris agreement, perhaps with different commitments, in the hopes that even our climate-skeptical country can help to prevent the near-apocalyptic scenario experts think is likely if we don't change course?
Eh. Probably not. But they'll shake hands as the planet burns!