PARIS – Memorable images taken during the state visit of French President Emmanuel Macron to Washington include a series in which President Trump leads Macron along the White House's colonnade with folded hands.
In France, the photographs were hardly seen as the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Those who oppose Macron's efforts to work with Trump saw a child following his father on the first day of school.
As might have been foreseen, the most pronounced criticism came from the political margins. "The New World: Atlantic Version," tweeted the French Communist Party. "Following, illustrated in a picture," wrote Florian Philippot, a prominent member of the far right of France.
But Trump's contempt is not a marginal phenomenon in France, where opinion polls repeatedly show that the US president is deeply unpopular more than the Russian Vladimir Putin, the Turkish Recep Tayyip Erdogan and China's Xi Jinping. The general meaning is that Macron plays with fire, even if he can establish himself, and France, as Trump's leading interlocutor in a Europe that has been largely kept at a distance.
Some in France have also begun to show the evidence of the increasingly tactile relationship between Macron and Trump, to show what they perceive as unpleasant similarities between the two presidents, especially with regard to immigration.
French President Emmanuel Macron and President Trump speak with the media on Tuesday before their meetings at the Oval Office. (Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post)
On Monday, the same day that Macron arrived in Washington, the French National Assembly passed its hotly contested immigration bill, which would allow authorities to incarcerate and double up illegal immigrants for a year the period in which asylum seekers could be detained by the police from 45 days to 90 years.
Following the election, a Macron parliamentarian MP went so far as to announce that he would leave the centrist faction of the President
Macron's immigration policy had alienated some of its supporters in recent months.
In January, French magazine L & # 39; Obs, formerly known as Le Nouvel Observateur, favorable for his candidacy during his presidential candidacy, posted him on the envelope behind a barbed-wire fence: "Welcome to the land of human rights ", it said in the headline.
Macron's perceived similarity with Trump on this issue
In a bilateral press conference on Tuesday, Trump underscored these obvious intersections with remarks about "uncontrolled migration."
"I know that you face similar challenges, and, Mr. President, I admire the leadership you showed when I spoke to them very honestly and directly – and not always popular," said Trump to Macron.
"Our two choices owe success to the desire of everyday citizens should be heard, heard and have control over their own nations and their own future," said Trump.
French President Emmanuel Macron and President Trump attend a joint press conference on Tuesday. (Ricky Carioti / The Washington Post)
These compliments did not work well in France, where Macron had expected a much softer line, especially compared to Marine Le Pen, his right-wing extremist opponent at last year's poll
" Emmanuel Macron received the congratulations of Donald Trump personally on his migration policy, "announced La France Insoumise (" France unbowed "), a prominent link party, via Twitter. "Support that speaks volumes …."
Jean-Luc Mélenchon, leader of La France Insoumise, added, "Mournable alignment of Macron with Trump's line."
In an informal town hall with students of George Washington University on Wednesday, Macron was asked about his migrant policies. He defended his views by emphasizing the difference between asylum seekers and economic migrants.
"I want my country to accept the maximum number of people who are eligible to be accepted if they pose a risk in their country," Macron said in English, sleeves rolled up. "Ninety percent of the people who come from Africa are not coming to Europe because of these kinds of political risks – they come from economic risks – you can not accept them all – this is not a sustainable burden on French society."