The time for hugs and kisses was over.
After a day of schmoozing with President Donald Trump at the White House, French President Emmanuel Macron delivered a joint address to Congress on Wednesday that was a clear rebuke to the Trump agenda.
In his speech in front of a full House and Senate, as well as Trump’s Cabinet, Macron laid out a vision of leadership at direct odds with Trump’s. He boldly repudiated several Trumpist themes, warning against the president’s brand of nationalism (think “America First”), saying America and France must be united against the threat of climate change, and urging lawmakers to support the Iran nuclear deal — something Trump has wavered on.
Democrats ate it up. Several times during Macron’s speech, Democratic lawmakers leaped to their feet in unison and cheered, while most Republicans stayed seated. Some lawmakers raised their fists in the air in seeming solidarity with the French president; at one point, Chair of the House Democratic Caucus Joe Crowley (NY) shouted, “Vive la France!”
Later, on Twitter, Crowley underscored his enthusiasm for the French president by saying Macron showed more leadership in one speech “than any of the addresses [Trump] has given in a year and a half.”
Here are five times that Macron split with Trump and congressional Republicans.
The word “science” is apparently partisan
Democrats were particularly enthusiastic about the lengthy section of Macron’s speech that focused on science and climate change, two issues President Trump and his administration have taken aim at. Macron beseeched the United States to reenter the Paris climate agreement, which Trump pulled out of in June 2017.
But he also took aim at the underlying ideology behind climate science denial, saying it was rooted in “ignorance.” As Macron spoke, there was a stark divide between Democratic and Republican lawmakers; Democrats stood and cheered. They were joined by some Republicans, including moderates such as Reps. Carlos Curbelo (FL) and Mike Gallagher (WI).
One of Trump’s first major acts in office was to pull the United States out of the Paris climate agreement, a worldwide accord negotiated in Paris to reduce carbon emissions.
Macron spoke at length about the threat climate change poses to the globe. (He sees it as both an environmental and security threat.) He said he hoped the United States would come back into the fold, committing to lower its carbon emissions along with the rest of the world. The United States is literally the only country opposed to the accord; Syria joined the agreement in November:
The rebuke of the GOP’s climate agenda was tied together with a remix of a famous Trump saying. “Let us work together in order to make our planet great again,” Macron said, prompting a laugh from Democratic lawmakers.
Macron defined “fake news” as actual misinformation — not just stuff Trump doesn’t like
The French president has also been the target of fake news websites circulating false stories about him, which surfaced a lot during his presidential campaign against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen. After Macron was elected, he vowed to introduce a law to ban fake news during elections, saying it represented an attack on democracy.
Trump has also been very outspoken about “fake news,” but his definition of the term seems to be whichever stories he doesn’t like. Many of the news stories Trump has labeled fake news come from legitimate outlets like the New York Times, the Washington Post, and CNN. Macron spoke of fighting back against misinformation as fundamental to protecting democracy.
“To protect our democracies, we have to fight against the ever-growing virus of fake news, which exposes our people to irrational fear and imaginary risk,” he said. He continued:
The speech was a rebuke of Trump’s nationalistic agenda
Macron made clear that he recognizes how Trump’s America First agenda runs deeper than his oppositions to big trade deals. It’s been a moniker for xenophobic, angry, and fearmongering rhetoric that’s pitted white majorities against marginalized communities. It’s inspired Trump’s proposal for a southern border wall, an immigration proposal that would gut the nation’s legal immigration system and the travel ban, stoking fear and anger about immigrants taking American jobs.
Macron delivered a clear rebuke to these policies.
“Anger only freezes and weakens us,” he said, to applause. “And as Roosevelt said, the only thing we have to fear it is fear itself.”
He went on to decry extreme nationalism and isolationism:
It was a message that received overwhelming Democratic support, and a less than tepid response from the Republican side of the aisle.
Macron supported the Iran deal
Macron’s opening statement on Iran received a standing ovation from both sides of the aisle: “As for Iran, our objective is clear. Iran shall never possess any nuclear weapons. Not now. Not in five years. Not in 10 years. Never.”
He then reiterated France’s support for the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), more commonly known as the Iran deal, which the Trump administration has repeatedly threatened to break and Republicans have long derided.
Macron said keeping nuclear weapons from Iran should “never lead us to war in the Middle East.” He continued:
And Macron said it with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) — who penned an open letter signed by 46 other Republican senators to Iranian leaders, warning them that Congress or a future president could revoke or alter any agreement reached under the Obama administration — sitting in the front row.
Macron believes in “regulated economies”
Among the biggest breaks with Trump’s agenda was Macron’s stand for “regulated economies.”
Where Trump decries globalization as a force of evil, Macron said the world is “experiencing the positive impact of globalization with innovations, with job creations.” Where the Trump administration and the Republican Congress have gone to great lengths to deregulate industries, from banking to the environment, Macron said the economy needs the “opposite of massive deregulation.”
He said he recognizes the challenges of a rapidly changing world, but his vision for how to address those shifts in the economy is the diametric opposite of the Trump administration’s vision:
The French president may have spent Tuesday praising his strong relationship with Trump, but in his speech before Congress, he made it clear that the two do not see the world the same way.