A Franco-American axis?

But spurring further intrigue, there are signs that Trump, the nationalist populist gadfly of the international scene, and Macron, the cosmopolitan champion of the European Union and liberal democracy, might actually be getting along. A senior administration official emphasized to reporters in Washington on Tuesday the number of times the two have spoken since Macron’s election victory in April, actually allowing the two to forgo a formal sit-down at last week’s G-20 gathering—since they have already built such a familiarity. The White House repeatedly characterized the early goings in the relationship as immensely encouraging, and there are signs this might be more than just puffery from team Trump. Macron’s outsized popularity in France and internationally also might be giving him more leeway than most leaders in dealing with the U.S. president, who has achieved pariah status in western Europe.

By way of example, the British parliament has tediously debated whether Trump should be allowed to visit the country for over a year, even when he was just a candidate. Macron decided he should come to Paris by swift fiat, and the U.S. president will visit Elysée and eat blue lobster in the Eiffel Tower. “Sometimes Trump makes decisions we don’t like, such as on climate, but we can deal with it in two ways: we can say, ‘We are not going to talk to you,’ or we can offer you our hand to bring you back into the circle,” government spokesman Christophe Castaner has told LCI, a French news channel. “Macron is symbolically offering Trump his hand.”