He doesn’t need to crack jokes

Deutsche Welle on the meeting of Merkel and Trump.

Superficially it went pretty well.

The obvious exception was Trump’s joking comparison of Merkel’s surveillance experience, which was real, with his, for which no evidence is known to exist.

“Joking about the US surveillance of Merkel is probably the most tone deaf moment so far of Trump’s time on the international stage,” said Stephen Farnsworth, a scholar of the presidency and the media at Mary Washington University. “Trump needs to remember that he doesn’t need to crack jokes like he is still on reality television’s ‘The Apprentice.'”

Farnsworth pointed out that the two leaders didn’t even engage in the traditional handshake during an Oval Office photo opportunity earlier in the day. “Merkel’s offer to do so was met with an awkward silence that served as a reminder of the deep gulf between their perspectives.”

I wouldn’t call it awkward, I would call it boorishly rude and mal élevé. I would call it shameful. He sat there smirking like a toad; it was grotesque.

Trump’s general rhetoric, for Anderson, was reminiscent “of a language more common of US administrations prior to 1989 – a language of bilateralism and ledger sheets, on which a balance of interest had to be maintained.”

Again in an ostensibly joking manner, but with a tough and dark undertone, the US president praised German trade negotiators who according to Trump had done a better job than their American counterparts, insinuating again as he had done before that the trade relationship is unbalanced and unfair.

Merkel, meanwhile, “spoke from an entirely different – and actually much more grounded and accurate – perspective, answering in effect that the EU negotiates trade deals with member state input and that the principle of mutual benefit in EU trade deals is well established,” said Anderson.

Yeah well, one of them is an adult and the other is a bratty child. This was about as good as anyone’s going to get.

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