Smile! President Obama and Chancellor Merkel pose for a photo together at the White House state dinner. (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

There, in the Rose Garden in front of the Oval Office, President Obama and Merkel professed their mutual admiration before 208 guests seated at tables draped in white-sequined cloth. Prior to his toast, Obama awarded the German leader the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the United States’ highest civilian honor....

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