The Grateful Dead may have cut an album called What a Long, Strange Trip It’s Been, but Argentina’s President Mauricio Macri and Donald Trump have turned that phrase into reality in what can be termed a bizarre lifelong relationship.
Trump will host Macri today in what may be perceived as a simple diplomatic excursion to discuss regional and bilateral issues concerning the Americas. Macri, his wife Juliana Awada, and their entourage will stay at Blair House, the president’s guest house, and lunch in the Cabinet Room All these trappings give the impression of an official state visit. But Macri is entering Trump airspace, and as you may have guessed, there is a twist—many, many turns.
Here’s the backstory: These men have a relationship that dates back some thirty years. As scions of wealthy families, with real estate interests, Trump and Macri were destined to encounter one another. In the 1980’s twenty-four-year-old Macri was dispatched by his construction tycoon papa to New York City to negotiate a real estate deal with Trump. Franco Macri owned a chunk of land in Manhattan and was eager to build a monument to greed and glory and stake his rightful place in the city skyline. Trump and Macri could not mete out an agreement that was satisfactory to both parties, and the project sputtered and died a painful death (at least for Franco) but a rapport, of like-minded, uber wealthy and ambitious men, was born. Over the years, the two have played many a round of golf together, and each have been guests in the other’s home during business trips to Argentina and the U.S.
One might say that Trump and Macri have been living congruent lives of sorts. Both, of course, born into privilege and expected to run their family’s dynasty. Empires are notoriously demanding and tend to wreak veritable havoc on family life, and Trump and Macri, succumbing to the rigors of the limelight, each have two divorces behind them. And here’s another interesting tidbit: Melania Trump and Juliana Awada are foreign born, considerably younger former models with a business background in fashion, strikingly gorgeous and are mothers to one child. Hmm…
There are marked differences between the beautiful and intelligent First Ladies. While Melania is reserved and happy to take a step behind her husband, Juliana leans toward a freestyle public approach. She often shares intimate details of their life as the ultimate power-couple, and coyly admits that she is sexually satisfied. To his credit, Macri is on the record with this wifely assessment, ‘My wife has too much sex. She’s insatiable.’ Don’t cry for Macri, Argentina. If you want to read more about the racy First Lady, The Daily Mail has photos and more as you can well imagine.
The friendship (or maybe rivalry is a better descriptor) between the two men has not always been the frat-boy style one-upmanship, and at points over three decades, circumstances have created feelings of ill will. In 1991, Mauricio Macri was snatched by kidnappers, stuffed in a coffin and held for ransom for twelve days. Still steaming over being run out of Manhattan by Trump, Papa Franco, pointed a gnarled finger at The Donald for orchestrating the abduction. ( I am not making this up.) In a book released in Argentina last year, El sequesto, by journalist Natasha Niebieskikwiat, there is considerable content on the elder Franco’s paranoid accusations. Enquiring minds can gorge on more of that bedtime story right here.
Politically similar to his frenemy Trump, Macri, a conservative, won the 2015 Argentine presidential election with 51% of the vote. A people’s mandate for change—which sounds vaguely familiar:
The shift to the right in Argentina comes as many leftwing leaders in Latin America, especially in Brazil and Venezuela, are suffering plunging popularity ratings and tanking economies as the resource-rich region adjusts to the end of a decade-long economic boom spurred by high commodity prices.
As temperatures heated up in the 2016 American election front, the newly anointed President Macri was asked by the press who he was backing for president. He answered ‘Hillary,’ and called Trump a “show off” and “totally crazy.” Ouch. The interviewer pressed on:
Asked if he could imagine a scenario in which the two would meet as presidents of their countries, Macri dismissed Trump’s chances of winning the presidency, saying his views were too extreme.
I wonder if Macri is practicing to moonwalk that statement back a tad before the Cabinet Room luncheon. Just a thought.
Although there is sure to be jocularity and rib jabs with the two freshman presidents, both Trump, and his counterpart have pledged to build on the bond they have spent three decades perfecting. There is work to be done. Promises have been made to the people of both nations and regardless of statements, accusations or business deals of the past, what lies ahead, and the work both leaders have before them is crucial, and a wee bit daunting. A friendly partnership, or at the very minimum, a rancor-less working relationship, will benefit generations to follow.
The curtain has yet to fall on this act and rest assured, this is not the final call for Macri or Trump. Sink deep into the velvet seats, settle in with the buttery popcorn and tangy Jujubees, and wait for the next scene to unfold on that great stage, in what is sure to prove the best political theater ever.
Or you could simply sit back, put in your earbuds and turn on The Dead.