The games heads of state play

People in the west place a lot of significance on the handshake and what it says about power relationships. Political observers of body language have been discussing for some time Donald Trump’s alpha-male dominance tactic of, when shaking hands, pulling the other person sharply towards him so that s/he is off balance and then shaking the hand vigorously and hard. It appears that word has got around about the Trump maneuver and we saw French president Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and now French president Emmanuel Macron doing counter moves.

Appearing in a photo-op with the investment-banker-turned-French-President Emmanuel Macron, Trump found himself in a stone faced, white-knuckled stand-off. He attempted to release his hand not once, not twice, but three times. Macron, barely containing a triumphant smile, finally let go.

“They shook hands for an extended period of time,” the Washington Post’s Philip Rucker wrote in a pool report. “Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”

Macron even went further when he was headed towards a group of heads of state at the G7 meeting. Macron seemed to be going towards Trump but at the last minute veered off to greet Germany’s Angela Merkel first and then two other heads of state and only then turned to greet Trump, and then we see the power handshake struggle again.

Man, how petty can you get? What next, arm wrestling?


  1. Jenora Feuer says

    ‘French President’ Justin Trudeau?

    Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau did have his own bit of fun with Trump’s handshake some time back. Of course, Trudeau was an amateur boxer as well, so not exactly unused to that sort of thing…

  2. chigau (違う) says

    Other than that, I think this hand-shaking business is hilarious.
    Now that everyone is onto him, Trump doesn’t stand a chance.

  3. Bob Munck says

    “Man, how petty can you get?”
    They’re dealing with Donald Trump here, remember. Trump is ALWAYS the pettiest person in the room.

  4. chigau (違う) says

    you still have a
    “Canadian President” up there
    but I don’t care because
    Macron won both of those encounters.

  5. lanir says

    I don’t think the other leaders are being petty. I think they’ve just adjusted and are using the body-language version of speaking in simple terms and using small words.

    At a guess, Trump could probably use the ego boost from this tactic working well (someone probably hit him with it a long time ago and it made a yuuuuge impression). I don’t actually think he’s so dumb that he believes this gets one over on world leaders much less their countries though. This feels like it has more to do with his attention span. He’s apparently been allowed to go through life with a very short attention span and been lucky enough no one has used that defect to rob him blind. It’s not the same thing as being unable to form intelligent thoughts but it can sure as hell fake it pretty well.

  6. chigau (違う) says


    I don’t actually think he’s so dumb that he believes this gets one over on world leaders …

    I believe you are mistaken.
    I think that Donald Trump is mentally deficient.

  7. says

    Yes, while I find this all quite hilarious, it is also showing that they don’t fall for him and that they show solidarity with one another.
    Trump craves attention and the spotlight so hard, it’s almost pitiful (but only almost).
    Look at how he still tries to get back Macron’s attention after they finish and Macron moves on to other people.

  8. mnb0 says

    “Man, how petty can you get?”
    Why expect more from politicians than from chess players and rugby players? Are cricket players above it?
    Ask any psychologist. Humans play such games all the times.

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