Trump’s Alter Ego Speaks French

French President Emmanuel MACRON and US President Donald TRUMP could not be more different as political big shots, yet so similar. One highly educated in France’s elite schools (Science PO and ENA), the other obtained a Master’s in Economics from Wharton School of Finance (U of Pennsylvania). Macron is barely 40 years old, and married a much older woman (his HS teacher), while Trump, barely 70 years old, married several times and each time to a much younger woman. In person-to-person contact, their chemistry seems to be positive. They converse with ease using similar business language. Each got rich in the open market, one in investments, the other in real estate. Neither had ever been elected to any public office, though Macron did try a couple of times. In the end, he did get appointed to important government posts in two previous administrations. Though “outsider” Trump has been a member of two political parties in the US, plus a stint as an Independent, he chose the Conservative side of politics to run for president. Macron actually formed his own centrist party (En Marche), adding to the array of French parties, none of whom ever get more than 30% of the electorate in primaries. He is said to come from the Left, but “dazzles the Right”. Trump comes from everywhere and is home everywhere. Without a majority in the primaries, Macron landed in a run-off with Right-wing candidate Marine Le Pen who he beat in a landslide. Both Presidents have chosen pragmatism over ideology.

Macron loves public policy and making France “competitive again”, but dislikes Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again.” Such an irony: France is known for its concern with “greatness”, as France was “great” under Napoleon and DeGaulle. For them, “greatness” is steeped in honor, duty, heritage, and love of homeland (French schools emphasize history). Greatness in Trump’s eyes is tall buildings, fat checking accounts, and large big-boy toys. True, Trump became a billionaire focusing on the “deals”. But, then, Macron is also rich, though only a millionaire. He earned his fortune while on the job at the Rothschild Investment Bank. This kind of luck makes even a socialist find a way to justify becoming rich. Macron, the ex-socialist, sounds American when he says that rich is not bad, we need not punish success, but we do want to help more people become rich (paraphrased). Therefore, reduced taxes make a lot of sense. All of this points to a convergence with Trump’s “capitalistic” thoughts, especially those involving private investment. Other areas where both presidents seem to move in parallel are found in energy policy (Macron wants nuclear), education, welfare, labor laws (Sunday store hours, hours worked), but not environmental practices. Note to reader: the French see no contradiction in working nuclear power plants while demanding a purified environment).

Armed with the legendary French astuteness, he disarmed his post-election competition by hiring the top guns from several rival parties for important government functions. The lure of an ambassadorship or cabinet post is stronger than money and ideology, on all continents. In fact, Macron also co-opted the economic message of his main rival party (Les Republicains) headed by Sarkozy, aka “Sarkozy the American”. Macron is in favor of a strong EU and wants to further tie the knot with Germany but on better terms. At times Macron refers to himself as the modern “Joan of Arc”, although that label fell on his arch-rival from the Right, Marine Le Pen. This pragmatic and young President holds positions found in Le Pen’s arsenal as well as in Trump’s, such as better immigration control, reduced burden on companies and jobs, jobs, jobs….homeland first…

Both presidents have many similar views, hold strong opinions, are hell-bound on executing on their respective plans. Macron approaches those issues with astuteness, subtlety, and elegance. Trump’s approach is that of a street fighter, using harsh if not insensitive language without much subtlety but with absolute self-confidence. Pragmatism is their common quality. Maybe this transatlantic magic spreads to other places. For instance, current President of Argentina, Mauricio MACRI who is shaking things up with market solutions down in Buenos Aires. More on him later…



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