He’s been known as the “French Obama” to some, and the Roman god “Jupiter” to others. But this week, French President Emmanuel Macron has earned himself a new nickname: “Trump Whisperer.”
The French president was anointed with the new moniker on the eve of his visit to Washington, where this week he becomes the first foreign leader to be hosted by President Donald Trump for a formal state visit. Considered the highest expression of friendship between the United States and a foreign state, the three-day visit includes all the trappings of a national event. In Macron’s case, this means a red-carpet welcome with a 21-gun salute, a state dinner at the White House (preceded by a rare private dinner with the president and the first lady at George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate), and the opportunity to address both houses of Congress.
That Macron was chosen for this honor comes as no surprise to those who have observed his close, albeit unusual, bond with Trump. Despite their political differences over the Paris climate accord and the Iran nuclear deal, the two seem to share a mutual respect, perhaps best demonstrated by Trump’s reluctance to criticize Macron publicly. “No I like him, he’s a friend of mine,” Trump told British TV presenter Piers Morgan during an interview in January, in which Morgan asked Trump whether Macron (“who’s been all over you, trying to be your new best friend”) should be perceived as a threat to Britain’s ambitions for a U.K.-U.S. trade deal. “Emmanuel,” Trump repeated, emphasizing each syllable with a smile. “He’s a great guy.”