Angela Merkel is in Washington on Friday. But she will not get the reception of her French counterpart Emmanuel Macron, whose U.S. visit this week was capped with a glitzy state dinner and a rousing congressional address. There will be no fanfare for the German chancellor. She is in the U.S. capital for a working visit, which lacks the pomp of a formal state visit. Nor, based on the awkward interactions that marked her last Washington visit in March, is she likely to display the same kind of easy rapport Macron did with the U.S. president.
Whereas Macron got cheek kisses, Merkel famously offered Trump a handshake and was ignored. Yet like Macron, she differs with Trump on many issues, including immigration (Trump called the chancellor’s open-door refugee policy a “catastrophic mistake”), trade (he has derided the U.S.’s “massive” $64-billion trade deficit with Germany), and defense spending (he thinks Berlin should have more of it).
For the Europeans’ part, Macron gave perhaps the fullest articulation of the divergence of the continent’s priorities and Trump’s in his congressional address on Wednesday. As my colleague Rachel Donadio noted, having embraced Trump, he denounced Trumpism on the House floor. On climate change, Macron predicted the U.S. would return to the Paris climate agreement because “Let’s face it: There is no planet B.” On the U.S.’s aluminum and steel tariffs (to which Trump has offered Europe only a temporary exemption), Macron warned against trade barriers, noting that “commercial war is not the proper answer.” On the Iran deal, Macron urged the U.S. to honor its international commitments and stressed that “we should not abandon it if we don’t have something more substantial instead.”