Crunching and shoving

Trump viewed from the vantage point of Jon Henley at the Guardian:

He crunched hands, shoved shoulders and struck poses. He scoffed chocolates, ignored protocol and harangued heads of state. He denied saying things he had said, then said things that showed he did not understand.

In short he was an embarrassing ludicrous spectacle.

First, there were the body language battles. Trump is well known for his efforts to dominate male interlocutors with a firm handshake, often accompanied by an arm wrench: notable victims include the Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe, who survived a 19-second power grip in February.

In Brussels on Thursday for meetings with EU and Nato leaders, he was trumped by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, whose smile and squeeze – reporters present described “knuckles whitening” and “faces tightening” – were so fierce that Trump was forced to yield.

Macron did what Trump does: he kept the hand and yanked it pitilessly back and forth. How do you like it, Donnie? Not so fun when someone else is doing it to you, is it, you cheap bully.

The rematch came at Nato headquarters after lunch, when Macron pointedly embraced German chancellor Angel Merkel, and shook hands with several other heads of state, before finally turning to Trump – who jovially pulled the Frenchman’s arm half out of its socket.

And then the shove.

Then he artlessly betrayed the fact that his opinions about the EU all stem from his experience of opening golf clubs there.

What European leaders did not seem to have anticipated was the US president’s patchy understanding of the bloc.

The Belgian daily Le Soir reported that while eating “a lot” of “the best” chocolates, Trump revealed to prime minister Charles Michel that his frequent criticisms of the EU were due largely to his personal experiences trying to set up businesses there.

“Every time we talked about a country, he remembered the things he had done,” one source told the paper. “Scotland? He said he had opened a club. Ireland? He said it took him two-and-a-half years to get a licence and that did not give him a very good image of the EU.”

Besides reportedly telling EU leaders the Germans were “bad, very bad” on trade, Trump and his team shocked the Europeans by their ignorance of the bloc’s trade policy, according to Süddeutsche Zeitung, repeatedly suggesting America had different trade deals with Germany and Belgium.

Rude, ignorant and domineering – what more could we want?

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