But also - Macron did Trudeau one better in the Donald Trump handshake competition today.
When Trudeau first met Trump, he famously held his ground against Trump's famously weirdly aggressive handshake. Trudeau was much-praised for his defensive actions versus Trump, including the pre-emptive left-hand shoulder grab seen here.
Well instead of playing perfect defense, Macron played offense!
When Mr. Trump greeted Emmanuel Macron, the recently elected president of France, the two leaders exchanged pleasantries before grabbing each other’s hands in what began as a manly greeting and ended as a kind of good-natured death grip.
Jaws clenching, faces alternating between smiles and grimaces, the two men shook until Mr. Trump’s knuckles turned white. At one point, the president tried to pull away, only to have Mr. Macron clasp his hand even harder and keep pumping. Finally, the second time Mr. Trump pulled away, Mr. Macron let him go.
I got a huge kick out of Paste Magazine's blow-by-blow of the Trump-Macron handshake:
At the 20-second mark, Trump attempts his patented “Trump Pump”—the forceful pull into the body which has destroyed so many world leaders. This time, though, the movie is almost indiscernible, and that’s because Macron counters it so quickly, and with such brute muscle, that Trump gained less than an inch of leverage, and in fact wound up losing ground as a result of Macron’s crushing defense. We saw Trudeau manage to withstand the same move in Washington, but with him, it was a matter of survival, while Macron actually took the offensive. It’s clear that he studied the film of the Trudeau encounter, and decided on the risky gamble of taking his response one step farther and playing for a win.
It paid off. After this daring maneuver, a stunned Trump was unable to recover. Macron, smile widening, continued to pump from the elbow and increase the strength of his grip on Trump’s hand, exerting pressure on the American president’s exposed knuckles. At the 23-second mark, now barely smiling, Trump broke eye contact first—a rarity—and turned to the photographers in desperation. He held on gamely for another split-second, but then came the critical moment that turned the handshake world on its head:
He tried to let go. Watch closely, and you can see his fingers release. Macron’s grip is clearly too much for him, and five seconds was all he could withstand. It’s a remarkable concession for such a proud man, and, unbelievably, As if to emphasize his victory, and deepen Trump’s shame, Macron redoubled his grip. Trump’s fingers fluttered once, attempting to close the grip, but then released again. It was an absolutely vicious move from the Frenchman, and undoubtedly some scholars will question whether it violates the spirit of the game.
Finally, Macron shows a bit of late mercy and releases Trump’s hand, while saying “thank you very much” in English—a subtle hint to Trump that he has just dominated him in the public eye, and can now use the language of the vanquished enemy to assert the victory.
In all, the brutal six-second bout was shorter than most of Trump’s engagements, and shorter by a second than his draw with Trudeau. Macron was the kind of opponent he had not seen before, and was frankly not prepared for. It was a savage win for the French president, punctuated by a dose of humiliation, and it will inevitably tarnish the legacy of Trump, whose aura of invincibility has been irrevocably punctured. By a Frenchman.
In related news, expect America’s entire nuclear arsenal to fall on Paris by the end of the week.
It does seem probable that Macron sees Trudeau as his rival in the male politician heartthrob competition and figures he might be able to beat him.
Personally I think Trudeau is handsomer than Macron - mostly because Trudeau has all that hair and I have a thing about hair. But in every other respect they are pretty evenly matched, and of course Macron's marriage is more 21st-century than Trudeau's. But it's so great that there are two prominent young male world leaders who are self-declared feminists. I am looking forward to each of them trying to prove they are the coolest - because let's face it, since Obama has gone, Trudeau has had no serious rival, so Macro will keep him from resting on his feminist laurels. This is a great thing.
LET THE GAMES BEGIN!