The endless Trump handshake with Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed for many that Donald Trump can be a very odd fellow sometimes. In fact, some might now say “most of the time” rather than “sometimes.” As reported by Tribune Media, the 19-second handshake in which Trump refused to allow Abe to pull away was simultaneously hilarious and creepy.
On Twitter and elsewhere, Trump’s transformation of a short obligatory handshake with the leader of Japan into an unexpected arm wrestling match was big news. Of course, getting lost in all the humor is the fact that Trump once again embarrassed the United States in the eyes of the world.
But is there more to this than Trump simply not knowing how to give someone a respectful handshake? Was this display of the stereotypical ugly American intentional by Trump. There’s reason to think so.
Passive Aggressive Trump Handshake
This is hardly the first time a Donald Trump handshake has grabbed media attention. According to CNN – as Trump introduced his new Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch – Trump intentionally yanked Gorsuch’s hand toward him near the end of their handshake. In fact, he almost pulled Gorsuch off his feet.
It’s hard to see this handshake as anything other than a display of dominance on Trump’s part. It’s the kind of thing you might expect from a schoolyard bully or someone else who has severe insecurities and wants to compensate by dominating others.
Pool report says that Trump said "Strong hands” after his long, awkward handshake with Abe
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) February 10, 2017
Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump
Handshake from hell notwithstanding, virtually every other part of the Abe visit to the Trump White House was extremely odd as well. Even worse, most of it seemed to be designed to intentionally insult the Prime Minister of one of the United States’ closest allies.
And it definitely showed on Prime Minister Abe’s face after the handshake. The last time an Abe was this uncomfortable in the White House, Mary Lincoln was yelling at Honest Abe about not wearing gloves for a handshake. To begin with, there was the hug.
— Blue Virginia (@bluevirginia) February 10, 2017
Generally, the Japanese are not exactly a touchy-feely people. They have certain defined protocols for interactions – protocols that do not include hugging total strangers in a public setting. And a handshake is short and sweet.
But Trump invaded Abe’s space anyway. This was apparently more passive aggressiveness on display, but it was not surprising from a man who admits to randomly grabbing women by the p***y.
Then there was the translation problem. Most presidents will have an earpiece in during a speech by a foreign dignitary so they can get a translation of what’s being said. Donald Trump apparently didn’t see the need for actually understanding what Abe was saying, so he skipped the translator and just smiled and nodded a lot.
This is about as dismissive a thing as could possibly be imagined and in some ways is even worse than the already infamous Trump handshake. Plus, it wasn’t even kept secret, so the Japanese government and people know that Trump apparently had no interest in Abe’s presence or thoughts. The Trump team was apparently only interested in putting Abe in his place – other rather the place Trump seems to feel he should be in. The handshake was just more of this.
In a final insult to cap off the oddity of the Trump handshake, poor Prime Minister Abe had to basically beg Trump to look at him during the sit-down photo session in the White House. The custom is for the two leaders at such meetings to stare firmly into each other’s eyes – regardless of what they think of the person they are shaking hands with.
But it looked as though Trump was too busy preening for the cameras to even noticed the foreign leader sitting across from him – except for those 19 seconds when he was trying to wrench Abe’s arm from its socket in the patented Trump manner.
[Featured Image by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images]