Are you enjoying the latest episode of the Trump-Macron show? It’s the most intriguing bromance in modern politics: two leaders from different and opposing political worlds who nonetheless fell for each other. It was self-love-à-deux from the moment they met. And they consummated their love by bombing Syria last year. They even bicker and make up like a passionate couple.
Today they are in Paris to mark Armistice Day, and Trump may be pleased to have left behind the Washington brouhaha following the midterms and his firing of Jeff Sessions.
Yet the broader and more remarkable point is the extent to which Trump and Macron’s fortunes have reversed. When Macron first welcomed Trump to Paris on Bastille Day, in July, 2017, Macron was the new Sun King of Europe; Trump was the toxic one everyone loathed.
Now, while Trump is not exactly universally popular, his approval rating is consistently above 40 percent. Macron’s hovers around 20 percent, and his presidency is starting to look like a lame canard. Indeed, polls suggest that, while Macron’s popularity is now at historic lows, the French are warming up to Trump. Given that there is almost certainly timide Trump factor in France, it’s quite possible the American president is now more than the French one in France. Quite something.
It would be amusing if he ended up being more popular than Macron in France; given that Macron pitched himself quite explicitly as l’anti Trump, the center-left antidote to Trump’s economic nationalism. Macron’s numerous stunts against the Donald – remember the never-ending handshake, his ‘Make Ze Planet Great Again’ speech and more – were designed to show the world that he understood what an awful joke Trump was; that he, Emmanuel, was the future. But it now looks as if Trump could have the last laugh. Then again, the two men have such a great personal connection – similar egos perhaps? Insecurities? – perhaps they can comfort each other. Perhaps they’ll do what struggling statesmen often do: look abroad for a monster to destroy. They could end up marking Armistice Day by starting another war together. Vive les républiques!