French President Emmanuel Macron launched an astonishing broadside at President Trump last night, attacking Trump's decision to withdraw the United States from the Paris climate accord.
“I do think it's an actual mistake, both for the United States and for the world,” Macron said. “To all scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, responsible citizens who were disappointed by the decision of the president of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them: Come here and work with us.”
And he didn't just criticize the president; he turned Trump's signature phrase against him. In English.
“We all share the same responsibility,” he concluded his remarks. “Make our planet great again.”
Don't underestimate the significance of Macron's choice to deliver his comments in Trump's native language. He knew the clip would be replayed ad nauseam on cable news, Trump's entertainment of choice. He knew Trump would hear what he had to say — even if it was unlikely to sway him.
Yes, the two had spoken directly, by phone, earlier Thursday. Macron reportedly told Trump that France would continue to work with the United States on diplomatic issues in general, but not on climate change, and issued a statement saying the Paris accord will not, as Trump suggested several times in his speech in the Rose Garden on Thursday, be renegotiated. But Macron's English-language statement was a masterstroke, a way to put Trump under public pressure in the American media, in a way that Trump will surely watch from his television just off the Oval Office Friday.
Macron also played to Trump's political base, casting climate change as a national security issue, and more specifically a border issue.
“If we do nothing, our children will know a world of migrations, of wars, of shortage — a dangerous world,” Macron said.
That kind of rhetoric almost could have come from Macron's election opponent, Marine le Pen, the far-right French politician who Trump openly supported this spring. It also could have come out of any one of Trump's stump speeches on the 2016 campaign trail — although likely not in the context of climate change.
There were already signs before Thursday that Macron has little time for his American counterpart. Remember, Macron showed up for his first meeting with Trump prepared for the extensively chronicled Trump handshake — or “Trumpshake,” as we labeled it last week:
The white-knuckled handshake was a relatively small moment in the grand scheme of NATO meetings and American diplomacy. But the moment that two world leaders first appear together in front of cameras does have some meaning; The fact that Macron was clearly prepared for Trump's signature arm-tugs shows he studied up, and made a pre-emptive decision.
And then there was the moment below, in which Macron greeted assembled NATO leaders, but visibly went out of his way to greet Merkel and other European leaders — his closest allies — before moving on to Trump. In one visual, it summed up Europe's read of Trump: Still an ally, but not at the top of the list, by any means.
Again, not the most consequential moment of the NATO summit, but one that speaks volumes about the relationship that exists — or doesn't — between Trump and Macron.
UPDATE: It seems Macron isn't the only person in France who has a few things to say about Trump's decision. On Friday, the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs reworked a video produced by the Trump administration, in a pretty unique way: