Who knew the G-7 meeting in Canada’s beautiful Charlevoix, Quebec would produce an image that is destined to go even viral-er than it already has, in just the last 11 hours?
Steffen Seibert is the chief of the German Federal Press Office, and the top spokesman for the Angela Merkel government. When he tweeted this photo earlier on Saturday, he probably had no idea it would come close to making his Twitter account inaccessible: so hammered by users looking for the original tweet that it will barely come up at the moment.
— Steffen Seibert (@RegSprecher) June 9, 2018
In fact, I’m including the image by itself below, in case the tweet goes haywire for readers. It was taken by (German) government photographer Jesco Denzel, according to Mr. Seibert.
Seiber’s description translates roughly as:
“Day 2 of the # G7 Summit in Canada: deliberations on the sidelines of the official agenda # G7Charlevoix”
Here’s a funny thing. There were a number of snarky tweets from Trump opponents earlier, in which the tweeters presented the photo as exhibit A in the case that America is isolated and embarrassed by our corn-hole of a president. Just look at those smart Europeans hanging over him and haranguing him!
But now many of those tweets seem to be surprisingly unavailable. And yes, some of them were from CNN. (Go to Sarah Sanders’ tweet at Twitter to see the thread.)
Dear @newsbyhughes @CNN,
Congratulations! Once again you are wrong. There is no “some kind of group signing” taking place. It was all negotiations. We were there. You were not. @Scavino45 tweet is 100% factual. Will you retract your “clever” and completely inaccurate tweet? https://t.co/iWhFfByiLn
— Sarah Sanders (@PressSec) June 9, 2018
Lower-profile tweeps have left their critiques in place, however, if you need a flavor of them.
Also we prefer this angle so you can see what was really going on. Trump is being scolded like the child that he is. pic.twitter.com/I6uGBCFD3J
— Ryan Graney (@RyanEGraney) June 9, 2018
Others, whether they like Trump or not, had a clearer view of the body language here, and which head of government comes across as the “alpha.”
This picture will play well for Trump domestically. If you don't understand why, then you haven't been paying attention. pic.twitter.com/HmSwbbKMjp
— Mike (@Doranimated) June 9, 2018
Speaking for myself, I’m getting powerful vibes from the Bugs Bunny cast of characters. Chancellor Merkel can’t help coming off like Elmer Fudd.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada isn’t visible in this image (he’s off-image on the photographer’s right), but he seems to keep cropping up as Daffy Duck.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe looks like the sheriff: The Man who’s always there somewhere representing law and order. (The henchman behind his right shoulder is so classic, Mel Blanc wouldn’t even attempt to give him a voice.)
French President Emmanuel Macron, next to Merkel with his hand in the “I feel a point building up” position on the table, has the look of the girl cat in the Pepe LePew cartoons.
Trump, of course, looks like Bugs Bunny, with his ears deceptively lowered, toying with his carrot.
There’s an informal competition blazing in social media to come up with the best meme caption for the photo. Go have a look; knock yourself out.
Some other tweeps already came up with riffs and visual allusions of a different kind.
The Last Globalist Supper pic.twitter.com/R7bPKr1iMa
— neontaster (@neontaster) June 9, 2018
— Orange Leader🤦♂️ (@OrangeLeaderUSA) June 9, 2018
(Several people beat me to the Norman Rockwell painting.)
In the meantime, Canadian government photographer Adam Scotti captured some additional photos of the sideline deliberations.
They’re worth sharing because of — again — the body language. Love him or hate him, Trump looks like the chief executive here waiting for the worker bees to get done arguing over the paperwork. Mike Doran (tweet above) is right. You don’t have to be a Trumpista to recognize hierarchical dynamics when you see them. Trump doesn’t look down at pieces of paper, doing sentence-by-sentence editing when he’s in a meeting with decision-makers. That’s what your staff is for.
Rail against that all you want, but it’s a human reality that’s never going to change. And the audience for these photos sees it clearly — just as it sees Trump in the power seat, not the punishment seat, in the Image of the Day.
From what I could tell, Barack Obama had a sense too for not going around with his head down over pieces of paper. The difference between Obama and Trump is that Trump gives off the Bugs Bunny vibe, whereas Obama gave off the supercilious, Martian-from-outer-space vibe.
Which is better? I don’t know if one should be, but we all know that, in terms of popular perception, one is. No, I don’t think this is the right-thinking person’s version of how dignified global policy should be worked out. But do you have the power to change it? Does any of us? No.
That’s the lesson we’re supposed to be learning. It’s more than the fact that we don’t get to shed dignity and character wherever we feel like it, but then claim it when we want it. It’s this: that giving us Bugs Bunny when we weren’t expecting it is God’s way of showing that we’re not ultimately in charge; that we can’t prevail by worshiping government, paperwork, or our own dignity; but that He loves us still, and wants us to be happy.