|Macron and Trump|
But the media attempt to make Macron a laughingstock backfired bigtime when he addressed a joint session of Congress Wednesday morning and in impeccable English carved out a place for himself as the true leader of the West.
Even discounting the required standing, the cheers and rounds of applause that greet every speaker to these congressional gatherings, Macron was making the sort of impact across the aisles that Trump never enjoys. His reputation in Europe may be something of a conservative taskmaster but in the US he suddenly came across as a progressive.
He forcefully proclaimed the heritage of the two countries, defended the Paris climate accord and longed for the US to return to that accord and continue the Iran nuclear pact – elevating saving the planet as the concern that sooner or later would bring the US back to his side.
He discounted the value of “commercial wars” (read trade wars) and made it clear throughout, to spontaneous eruptions of applause, that his viewpoints were far more popular in Congress than Trump’s. He bluntly said America would be judged by history on its maturity about climate change and intelligent world policy, rather than the fits and hiccups generally emanating from the White House. It was a pointed rebuke.
And quite a turnaround for Congress. Even the Republican gentlemen ensconced behind him, Vice President Pence and Speaker Ryan, were forced to their feet more often than they had planned, yet 16 years ago they were part of the group in Congress that changed French fries to “Freedom Fries,” so angry were they at France for not joining the Iraq war.
So let the media have its fun setting the Trump-Macron lovefest to music and providing constant front-page photos of the two leaders holding hands and patting each other on the back.
Macron may have looked like a little boy standing next to Trump, but he was the one with the smile of a tiger. It was Trump who looked fawning and it was Macron who was quietly grabbing the mantle of world leader.