On Monday, President Donald Trump announced that the United States and Mexico had reached a preliminary trade understanding that would eventually take the place of the North American Free Trade Agreement currently in place between the U.S., Mexico, and Canada.
To punctuate the importance of this announcement, Trump made a big show of his deal-making prowess in a surprise Oval Office appearance, during which he attempted to get Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto on the phone so the assembled press pool could hear how good things were going to be.
It did not go particularly well.
Flanked by his top advisors, Trump sat at the Resolute Desk in awkward silence while White House operators attempted for nearly a minute to actually get Peña Nieto on the phone, proving beyond all shadow of a doubt that conference calling is the goddamned devil—especially when it’s between two heads of state and being broadcast live around the world.
As it became increasingly clear that Peña Nieto wasn’t on the line at the start of the call, Trump was forced to make embarrassing small talk with those gathered in the Oval Office, asking off-camera at one point “how are you?” before insisting “it’s a big thing.”
After finally getting the Mexican president on the line, Trump chit-chatted about his supposed break-through, including the fact that he planned to drop the “NAFTA” title in place of the “United States Mexico Trade Agreement”—an equally dull name that rolls off the tongue with the fluidity of a jawbreaker covered in nails. And then, when it was all over, Trump made a simple request of Peña Nieto: “A hug from you would be very nice.”
Forget about handshake diplomacy—somebody get this guy a hug.