What’s with Trump and female world leaders?

LONDON — When President Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May awkwardly held hands this January, it appeared to be the beginning of a potential friendship and the continuation of a wartime-forged special relationship that has connected both countries for almost a century.

November 30 at 7:21 AM Washington Post 

But the prospects of that friendship were thrown into uncertainty on Wednesday, after Trump retweeted three videos promoted by a British far-right group. In an unusual rebuke, the spokesman for the British prime minister responded to the retweets, saying that it was “wrong for the president to have done this.”

Trump quickly fired back, relying on his preferred social media platform Twitter rather than a spokesman. “[Don’t] focus on me, focus on the destructive Radical Islamic Terrorism that is taking place within the United Kingdom. We are doing just fine,” Trump wrote in a message, which he initially sent to the wrong “TheresaMay” — a user with the same name who had less than a handful of followers at the time.

His response certainly wasn’t lost to Downing Street, though.

What motivated Trump to suddenly lash out against the British prime minister is unclear, but his personal attack fits a pattern that has emerged since his inauguration in January. Despite some initial clashes and disagreements, Trump appears to have found common ground with many male world leaders: He watched a military parade with France’s Emmanuel Macron, praised Canada’s Justin Trudeau for “doing a spectacular job” and bonded with the Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte, who sang a love song for Trump during the president’s visit. And then there’s his well known admiration for Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

But when it comes to female foreign leaders, Trump — who has faced multiple sexual misconduct allegations and was recorded having extremely lewd conversation about women in 2005 — appears to have behaved more aggressively. In less than one year, he has clashed with the two most powerful female leaders in Europe: first German Chancellor Angela Merkel and now May.

The number of female government leaders insulted or attacked by Trump keeps growing. In mid-November, Trump told New Zealand’s new leader, Jacinda Ardern: “This lady caused a lot of upset in her country,” according to the prime minister’s account of the conversation. (Ardern said that she responded by saying: “You know, no one marched when I was elected.”)

Merkel, Ardern and May have all spoken up when they deemed the president’s behavior unacceptable and none of those female leaders tried to bond with the president the way many of their male counterparts have. Neither do they play golf nor appear to find military parades particularly intriguing, in order to please the world’s most powerful man.

During a Merkel visit to D.C. in March, a visibly unenthusiastic Trump was filmed as he — deliberately or accidentally — ignored calls to shake Merkel’s hands in the Oval Office. The symbolism of that scene wasn’t lost on anyone: He had previously called Merkel a “catastrophic leader” and the “person who is ruining Germany.” To Trump, his former Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton was to be denigrated as “America’s Angela Merkel.”

Trump, Merkel share awkward photo op in Oval Office

The feelings were probably mutual: Merkel never attempted to charm Trump, especially given that a vast majority of Germans are opposed to Trump’s presidency and any such efforts would likely backfire domestically.

Trump has mostly responded with political muscle flexing: When Merkel indicated that Europe could no longer rely on the United States this summer, the U.S. president threatened Germany with economic repercussions over the trade deficit. So far, however, Trump has not followed through on his threats.

Categories: US, US President, USA

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