Holy sour-braten, Batman. Am I right that Trump never once makes eye contact with her here, even when she suggests a handshake at 0:50? Between this and the GCHQ clusterfark, all the White House needs now is to snub France to hit the single-day trifecta for pissing off our closest European allies.
I hope there’s a good reason to justify his attitude apart from simply pandering to nationalists by gratuitously cold-shouldering her. If she told him in their meeting before the photo op, “Screw you, we’re not paying two percent of our GDP on NATO,” well, then you might understand his irritation. But even then, there’s nothing to be gained by making a display of disdain. Have your screaming match in private, then do the big handshake and back-slapping for the cameras, as he’ll almost certainly do when he finally meets Xi Jinping. In fact, it’s so awkward that maybe the whole thing is a misunderstanding: It could be that Trump just didn’t hear her when she asked for a handshake over the din of reporters. They’re holding a joint news conference this afternoon; if tensions between them were as bad as this clip makes them look, presumably that would have been canceled. They look pretty chipper in this photo, no?
And hey, however bad it was, it still wasn’t the most awkward interaction between Merkel and a U.S. president. Exit question one: If it’s true that Geert Wilders was damaged by comparisons to Trump, will Trump’s antagonism inadvertently end up helping Merkel in this fall’s elections? Europeans are newly interested in nationalism, but the more “nationalism” becomes a synonym for “Trump,” the more fragile that interest might be. Exit question two: How’d you like to be the guy who wrote this op-ed, posted at CNN right around the time the Trump/Merkel video was circulating?
No handshake. No talking to one another.
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) March 17, 2017