It has to bother Donald Trump that his hands—and not some other, more centrally loathsome part of his anatomy—have become his most-discussed body part since he began his presidency back in January. And yet, the man brings it on himself, with his repeated attempts to frat-boy alpha-dog his fellow world leaders into submission with aggressive, arm-jerking handshakes.
That schoolyard bully approach to international diplomacy failed Trump this week, though, when new French President Emmanuel Macron refused to play along with his Business For Pricks 101 tactic. Instead, Macron maintained control of the shake, exerting pressure and resisting Trump’s efforts to mark him as a submissive in the global pecking order. How did Macron know to expect the Death Shake? Easy: He was warned by members of those hated outlaws, the American news media.
The Washington Post’s Jonathan Capehart recounted an anecdote earlier today, in which he and another, unnamed person warned France’s ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, about Trump’s beloved pump-and-pull during a party earlier this week. Forewarned, Macron was able to resist Trump’s dominance games not just once, but twice during the president’s visit to France, stopping the American president from jerking him all around a blue-carpet meetup with a number of world leaders.
On the one hand, we’re always happy to see Trump’s caveman negotiation tactics fail. On the other hand, this new obsession with the intricacies of handshakes, alpha male bullshit, and dominance feels, itself, a little petty, toxic, and obsessed with tiny revenges. But, then, you know what they say: a country tends to take on the attributes and concerns of the person at its top.