This week, alot has happened politically. However, one thing that stood out to me–well not just one but in the context of this class I’ll talk about just this–is how Donald Trump reacted to a french band breaking out and playing Daft Punk, versus how the French president, Macron, reacted. (https://news.vice.com/story/trump-macron-daft-punk-medley). The news media immediately went completely bananas, critcizing Trump’s lack of nonverbal communication. On one side, you have Macron smiling and nodding his head, and next to him, Trump sits completely stone faced, not making any sign of enjoyment or even understanding of what is happening.
When I read this week’s textbook reading, I was struck by the examination of non-verbal communication. By the book’s standards, Trump was angry, his mouth set in a thin line. Macron, on the other hand, was enthusiastic, smiling at the bands impromptu breakout into pop music. However, I do not think Trump was truly angry, I think he was not expecting this breakout into song, much less from a military band. Additionally, the video shows Frenchmen in uniform clapping along and dancing in their seat, to the beat of the music. To an outsider, a non-frenchman, this may seem very unprofessional and out of place, therefore I *slightly* understand Trumps reaction.
However, this does not excuse the fact that as an American president–the representative of the United States of America abroad– one should be able to pick up on the non verbal communication of the country they are guests in, and mirror it, at the very least to show a minimal understanding of how the country works. Trumps lack of mirroring was quite obvious, and may have even offended the French population, if not the band at the very least. Maybe it was sheer confusion, as to why a military band would play something so upbeat, which bewildered Trump…or his lack of facial expressions in the first place.
Additionally, at the beginning of Trump’s visit to France, he caused another major tsunami with his words, rather than non-verbal communications, his comment to Macron about his wife. This has already made the rounds of social media and news outlets, but it is still quite a confusing international moment. Trump comments to Macron–in front of Melania— that Macron’s wife is quite fit, and beautiful. Of course, there was no retaliation on the part of the French president or his wife, but it doesn’t take a genius to understand how uncomfortable the entire situation was–to everyone except Trump. His non verbal communication, additionally, made his intentions quite clear. With a quite up-down look of Mrs. Macron, Trump made his view about women clear yet again: they are simply objects to be admired, touched, and used. Never has he said one positive thing about a woman without relating it back to her appearance, and never has he held his tongue about saying what he really believes about womens looks.
So after this week of confusing political events, I am left to wonder: was Trump raised in a golden room all by himself? Has no one ever told him what is societally acceptable or not? Or is he simply so daft that he is incapable of understanding what he can or cannot say, and how he should react to events? Maybe the truth is that Trump honestly does not care–he says what he thinks and expresses what he feels, regardless of what is acceptable in society today. Until then, I’ll be left wondering….