Trumpian leadership and the awe of foreign heads of state

Trump is having sensational success internationally, and a good part of that comes from his machismo.  This is machismo not in the silly feminist sense, but in the old-school sense of manliness, of a guy standing tall and proud, glad to talk but ready to fight if need be.  That kind of machismo.

Other national leaders can feel it in his presence, and it actually affects their own sense of manliness.  This is what natural leadership feels like, even if it's a woman exuding it.  Self-assured, informed, cheerful, fun.  People want such a one out front, leading the parade, and they respond positively to it.

You can see the effect of it in the faces of foreign leaders as Trump shakes hands.  Even the Philippines' Duterte, famous for being tough, looks a bit intimidated.  China's Xi shows what looks like wonderment in Trump's presence.  Japan's Abe, more accustomed to Westerners, doesn't show it as openly, but when he faces Trump, it's there.

Western Europeans don't look so much as intimidated as awed.  They willingly concede the top position in Trump's overpowering presence.  Accustomed to standing at the front and having all eyes and cameras on them, they move to the side or the rear, eyes reflecting respect.

France's Macron, not used to being overshadowed and not liking it at first, fought it when he met Trump.  It was obvious.  Trump was still at ease, but Macron was squeezing that hand for all he was worth.  What came naturally to Trump – a firm, manly handshake – was forced in Macron.

Justin Trudeau was awestruck when he came to D.C. and met Trump for the first time.  His tough talk noticeably softened under Trump's influence the next day.  Back home, it was a month or so before Trudeau regained his usual swagger.

None of this was in evidence when Obama met these people or, before him, Bush II.  Obama had a certain presence, but it wasn't leadership he radiated; it was cocksureness, different from self-confidence in the way teenager cockiness differs from manly self-assurance.  The one's for show; the other's for real.

Leadership.  Not seen in the presidency since Reagan.

Trump is having sensational success internationally, and a good part of that comes from his machismo.  This is machismo not in the silly feminist sense, but in the old-school sense of manliness, of a guy standing tall and proud, glad to talk but ready to fight if need be.  That kind of machismo.

Other national leaders can feel it in his presence, and it actually affects their own sense of manliness.  This is what natural leadership feels like, even if it's a woman exuding it.  Self-assured, informed, cheerful, fun.  People want such a one out front, leading the parade, and they respond positively to it.

You can see the effect of it in the faces of foreign leaders as Trump shakes hands.  Even the Philippines' Duterte, famous for being tough, looks a bit intimidated.  China's Xi shows what looks like wonderment in Trump's presence.  Japan's Abe, more accustomed to Westerners, doesn't show it as openly, but when he faces Trump, it's there.

Western Europeans don't look so much as intimidated as awed.  They willingly concede the top position in Trump's overpowering presence.  Accustomed to standing at the front and having all eyes and cameras on them, they move to the side or the rear, eyes reflecting respect.

France's Macron, not used to being overshadowed and not liking it at first, fought it when he met Trump.  It was obvious.  Trump was still at ease, but Macron was squeezing that hand for all he was worth.  What came naturally to Trump – a firm, manly handshake – was forced in Macron.

Justin Trudeau was awestruck when he came to D.C. and met Trump for the first time.  His tough talk noticeably softened under Trump's influence the next day.  Back home, it was a month or so before Trudeau regained his usual swagger.

None of this was in evidence when Obama met these people or, before him, Bush II.  Obama had a certain presence, but it wasn't leadership he radiated; it was cocksureness, different from self-confidence in the way teenager cockiness differs from manly self-assurance.  The one's for show; the other's for real.

Leadership.  Not seen in the presidency since Reagan.