At the end of last month when the tag-team of Anne Gearan, Philip Rucker, and Anthony Faiola wrote a story for the Washington Post about the arrival of Donald Trump for the G-20 summit in Buenos Aires, they didn’t have any real ammo with which to bash the president that day. As they acknowledged, he “began the day on a triumphant note, ceremonially signing a hard-fought trade agreement with Canada and Mexico.”
Later he “kept his distance from Vladimir Putin.” No collusion to report that day.
Trump “exchanged pleasantries” with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. That didn’t make the Post trio happy, but they could hardly build a another Trump-bashing story around the exchange.
How, then, did the Post use the summit to write the obligatory anti-Trump story? By comparing him unfavorably to Emmanuel Macron!
In contrast with Trump, who arrived in Buenos Aires only hours before the first summit meetings began, Macron was emerging as the darling of the Argentines. He arrived a day and a half early and made a broad run through a city often dubbed the “Paris of South America.” He dined at a traditional Argentine steak house and visited the cultural institute of the renowned Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges. He took his morning coffee at El Ateneo Grand Splendid, a theater-turned-bookstore and cafe that is heralded as among the most glamorous in the world.
Crowds outside the bookstore cheered Macron, leading the local newspaper Clarín to declare him “a rock star.”
“It was a visit that was organized very confidentially,” the bookstore’s manager, Andrea Stefanoni, told Clarín. “It was organized days ago and was very beautiful because he is a person who feels very much tied to literature.”
This homage to the embattled Macron, who by the way had his picture taken shaking hands with the Saudi crown prince, was written without the slightest trace of irony. It also fails to note that Macron is anything but a rock star in France these days.
Perhaps Rucker has been too busy trying to become the new Dana Milbank to know that Macron’s approval rating (in France, not Argentina) is little more than half of Trump’s approval rating in the U.S. Maybe Rucker was unaware that Macron left France after two weekends of mass protests against his environmental policy, among other grievances.
No wonder Macron wanted to arrive early in Buenos Aires.
While Macron was eating steak, visiting a fancy cultural institute, and enjoying coffee in the most glamorous cafe in the world, French protesters were planning a third round of mass demonstrations. News reports indicated that large-scale violence might accompany the protesting.
That, of course, is what happened — the worst rioting in a generation. The response by authorities was woefully inadequate.
But at least Macron is now the toast of the Argentine elites.
The Post got this much right — there is an enormous contrast between Trump and Macron. But the contrast doesn’t favor the French president.
Being “very much tied to literature” is a fine thing. But it’s no substitute for leadership and vigorous pursuant of the national interest.