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Thursday, July 13, 2017

POTUS in France: they shook hands and wow!

President Trump arrived in Paris Thursday morning (EDST) for a meeting with France's President Emmanuel Macron. The meeting may mark a change in our relationship with the 'croissant nation.'

This year, American troops will join our French allies in the annual parade which marks 100 years since the US entered into World War One.

But today, something much more important took place, at least more important to the media--Presidents Trump and Macron shook hands.

When the pair first met ahead of the NATO summit in May, President Macron provided President Trump with a gripping handshake in front of the cameras, which he held for several long moments. 

But Macron also appeared to snub Trump later in the summit when he apparently swerved away from Trump's open arms, making our President wait while Macron schmoozed with other so-called world leaders.

When Trump announced he was pulling our of a key climate change agreement brokered in Paris, Macron released a video in English, inviting US scientists to come and live in France and used the slogan to "Make Our Planet Great Again," which was kind of a lazy reach at parody.
Photo: Getty Images

Things haven't been all peachy keen between them since Trump backed Macron's right-wing rival Marine Le Pen during the French presidential election. In fact, Russian influence in both US and French elections hang heavily over this visit.

But the handshake . . . 

"It is high time to finish with the juvenile rivalry of handshakes," an editorial in Le Monde said last month. It explained that Mr. Macron may have "stolen the American president's monopoly on being unpredictable . . .[but he] wants to become the European leader of the international political scene. To achieve this, he'll have to go beyond images and symbols."

Macron excels at flattering world leaders, kissing up to them, as it were, and he has made a strong effort most recently to do that with Mr. Trump.

Macron is young and inexperienced, receiving less than 25 percent of the vote in the first round of the French election. He now wants to increase his influence on the world stage and boost his popularity at home. 

Jean-Christophe Cambadélis, the secretary-general of the Socialist Party, told a French newspaper that Macron was "looking for the company of the world's big leaders" because he wanted to "legitimize his victory."

So when Trump landed in France this morning, he was greeted by a display of pomp and military might.

But the handshake . . . 

President Trump's acceptance of Macron's invitation was also a chance for him to show his transatlantic ties and the shared challenges the two countries face: the Syrian conflict, the fight against world terrorism, and the military alliance.

Tomorrow's commemorations will be a sad reminder of last year's Bastille Day terrorist attack in Nice, where 86 people were killed when a Tunisian-born Muslim man drove a truck through crowds gathered to watch the fireworks on the Promenade des Anglais.

Security has been significantly increased this year, as the French, like the rest of the world, closes the barn door after the horses escape.

But the handshake . . . the men stood across from each other. President Trump cocked an eye at President Macron. Then President Macron cocked an eye at President Trump.

Both men stood there . . . cock-eyed.

The French military band played The Star Spangled Banner then belted out La Marseillaise.

The handshake . . . both men extended their right arms, hands out front, palms perpendicular to the deck. 

The two hands met, then clasped in international solidarity . . .  then the two hands went up . . .  then down . . . and all too soon, all too very soon, the two hands left the company of one another returning on their journey to the sides of two presidents.

Big deal.