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Trump jokingly brushes 'dandruff' off Macron

President Donald Trump said his "special relationship" with French President Emmanuel Macron is not fake news.

Posted: Apr 25, 2018 11:45 PM
Updated: Apr 25, 2018 11:45 PM

It looked like a Mission Impossible. The French President came to Washington with the conflicting goals of simultaneously seducing President Trump -- whose concept of love demands effusive public displays of affection -- and the people of the United States, most of whom, according to polls, are not quite in love with their President. Making the French President's job even more complicated, he had to worry about the audiences at home in Europe, particularly in France, where Trump is even more unpopular than in the United States.

For Emmanuel Macron, capturing Trump's heart risked turning the rest of the world's stomachs.

But somehow, with the suave moves of an amorous fictional Frenchman, he pulled it off. Of course, this romance was driven by cold calculation. And that was the secret of Monsieur Macron's success. He wanted to prove he is, in fact, the Trump whisperer, capable of coaxing Trump away from his worst instincts. More specifically, Macron wanted to persuade Trump not to tear up the Iran nuclear deal, not to remove US forces from Syria, and to return the United States to the Paris Agreement on climate change.

From the moment he arrived, the physicality of his political maneuvers was something to behold. A relationship that started last May with a legendary bone-crushing handshake and continued in Paris with perhaps the longest handshake in recorded history, moved to US soil with a festival of macho touching, with endless, frequently awkward interactions.

The two men competed to see who could touch the other more. There were backslaps and backrubs. Every handshake required a tap with a third hand, a squeeze with a fourth one. There was the unforgettable "dandruff brush off" by Trump, and the "I love this guy," after Macron kissed him following a press conference.

The body language detonated all manner of primate behavior analysis. The two were clearly in a competition for dominance. Other experts detected genuine affection.

The back rubs appeared to produce some results. He appeared to convince Trump that leaving Syria would open the country to Iran, and by combining Iran and Syria and proposing a "new deal" -- a renegotiation of the nuclear agreement that would, among other things, address Iran's activities in Syria and Yemen -- he left Trump intrigued. "I think we will have a good shot at doing a much bigger, maybe, deal," the President mused in Trumpian syntax, "maybe not deal."

But that was all a means to an end. Trump, who has presided over a historic plummet in international approval for US leadership, wanted to show he has friends, and wanted to enlist France's support on the global stage. Macron needed this trip to cement his alliance with Washington, so he could show he is the new leader of Europe.

With Trump in his corner, Macron addressed Congress, the American people and, really, the world. In a rhetorical pirouette, his Wednesday speech delivered a repudiation of much of what Trump stands for.

Macron brought members of Congress -- both houses, both parties -- to their feet, proving that there is common ground in US politics, a surprise to many Americans.

He started by speaking the language of freedom, which resonates in this country. But then he seemed to tacitly refer to Trump when he spoke against nationalism, against fearmongering, against isolationism. Nationalism "can be tempting," he said, "but closing the door to the world ... will not douse but inflame the fears of our citizens." He spoke of the threats to the global order, warning that "what we cherish is at stake. What we love is in danger." He called on the United States to lead the defense of the values and institutions of the free world that it helped promote and defend.

He warned against protectionism, against "securing current industries" rather than "transforming our economies to meet the global challenge."

He admonished on climate change, saying, "There is no Planet B," and adding, "I'm sure, one day, the United States will come back and join the Paris Agreement." He said the United States, along with its allies, needs to lead in the defense of the global order.

The United States, Macron was saying, remains the indispensable nation. And until the president of the United States returns to the role of advocate for human rights, democracy and multilateralism, Macron would be the one nudging the current President in that direction. And if that requires kissing him, praising him, and whispering in his ear, he showed he was up to the task.

His audience understood exactly what he was doing. It was a masterful performance for a man tackling a nearly impossible mission. No wonder the entire Congress gave him a lengthy standing ovation.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 453808

Reported Deaths: 6131
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin941381495
Ramsey40509748
Dakota33463350
Anoka31283368
Washington20471234
Stearns18051190
St. Louis13916247
Scott1213098
Wright11756107
Olmsted1073975
Sherburne827868
Carver703139
Clay657684
Rice621170
Kandiyohi556772
Blue Earth546833
Crow Wing489178
Otter Tail463167
Chisago458138
Benton423288
Winona394248
Douglas378466
Nobles374447
Mower372129
Goodhue355362
Polk330660
McLeod327947
Beltrami315048
Morrison314145
Lyon304738
Becker288839
Itasca287143
Isanti284842
Carlton283543
Steele278510
Pine269614
Freeborn253623
Todd233130
Nicollet227938
Brown217434
Mille Lacs215045
Le Sueur213516
Cass210524
Meeker201233
Waseca192816
Wabasha17413
Martin171726
Roseau166317
Hubbard150238
Redwood141027
Houston139814
Dodge13864
Renville138040
Chippewa132332
Cottonwood128918
Fillmore12646
Wadena120218
Rock111912
Aitkin111233
Sibley10947
Faribault108816
Watonwan10688
Pennington101016
Kanabec99318
Pipestone96423
Yellow Medicine94916
Murray9096
Jackson87310
Swift84418
Pope7465
Stevens7078
Marshall70315
Clearwater68714
Lake66315
Lac qui Parle66016
Wilkin6349
Koochiching60310
Lincoln4892
Big Stone4693
Unassigned44568
Grant4388
Norman4258
Mahnomen4147
Kittson37320
Red Lake3204
Traverse2613
Lake of the Woods1961
Cook1150

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 310915

Reported Deaths: 4432
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk46760465
Linn18037279
Scott15838172
Black Hawk14076243
Woodbury13111181
Johnson1228552
Dubuque11615159
Pottawattamie9146115
Dallas907772
Story879438
Cerro Gordo472572
Webster472077
Sioux459657
Warren458039
Clinton457768
Marshall430762
Buena Vista396230
Muscatine395878
Des Moines394943
Plymouth352870
Wapello349898
Jasper331659
Lee324132
Marion308953
Jones274650
Henry267331
Carroll258234
Bremer249848
Crawford234324
Washington222933
Boone222717
Benton213050
Mahaska197637
Jackson194932
Tama190159
Dickinson188329
Kossuth178544
Delaware176036
Clay172021
Wright166624
Fayette165924
Hamilton162230
Buchanan162024
Winneshiek160820
Harrison158162
Hardin156931
Cedar155519
Clayton153849
Butler150924
Page146415
Floyd141436
Cherokee140027
Mills138517
Lyon137533
Poweshiek134924
Hancock131524
Allamakee130930
Iowa127722
Madison123610
Calhoun12349
Grundy122528
Jefferson122125
Winnebago121729
Mitchell116837
Louisa116230
Cass114843
Chickasaw113712
Appanoose112440
Sac112015
Emmet111232
Union111023
Humboldt106619
Shelby105427
Guthrie104224
Franklin103318
Unassigned10110
Palo Alto91711
Montgomery88324
Keokuk86326
Howard85519
Monroe82220
Clarke8108
Pocahontas78111
Ida75930
Davis70121
Greene6977
Adair69620
Monona67018
Lucas66610
Osceola64711
Worth6184
Taylor5999
Fremont5246
Van Buren50215
Decatur4964
Ringgold44811
Audubon4218
Wayne41921
Adams2993
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