World leaders beware: a photo with Trump will expose your spirit | Stuart Heritage

Mitt Romney, Chris Christie, Barack Obama and Nigel Farage are all destined to be remembered for how they appeared when they were photographed with the president-elect

You could get lost in that photo of Donald Trump and Mitt Romney, couldnt you? Every time you look at it, another new detail rises to the surface and breaks your heart. The slant of Romneys eyebrows. The self-satisfied careen in Trumps neck. The bottle of wine in the background and the glass of water on the table. The sensation that Trump has shoved away his plate of scallops and demanded that someone bring him a big bowl of Sugar Puffs and a mixing spoon.

But it is Romneys face that induces this such a fascinating picture. Look at it. There is no way on Earth that Romney expected the photo to be taken. He is, remember, the most presidential-looking non-president in the history of the United States. He looks like what you would get if you asked a beachside cartoonist on Marthas Vineyard to describe a human version of a bald eagle. Yet here he is, three mouthfuls into a dinner, looking sheepish and writhing as if he has just been caught in bed with another woman. If this photo had a caption, it would be: Honey! What are you doing back earlier today?

Nigel Farage looks like a competition winner who lost all bladder control because he got to meet an American off the telly. Photo: @Nigel_Farage/ Twitter

Were told that Trump is a master of distraction, that every time he tweets or barks or toots it is a carefully stage-managed ploy to keep our attention away from his hidden agenda. There is likely to be those who claim that this photo is one such distraction. However, I cannot agree. It strikes so hard at the essence of what it is to be Romney a failed presidential nominee so desperate for power in any form that he is willing to make a humiliatingly public display of affection towards a man he once called a fraud. And it is an facet of Trumps strategy that is vitally important to highlight.

Trump does this over and over again. Forget about dealmaking or galvanising the white working class; his greatest talent is his ability to induce you disclose your true ego in photograph. He is such an overt character, and inspires such polarised reaction, that people become totally incapable of hiding their impressions around him. This is my theory: if youre a public figure of any description, history will remember only what you looked like when you were photographed with Trump.

Romney sagging and violated as though Trump has ambushed him with a mariachi band playing Tonight You Belong To Me on an orchestra of sex toys is only one example. And you dont have to look far for others.

Chris Christie seems on as his political aspirations burn. Photo: Scott Audette/ Reuters

A year ago, for instance, Chris Christie was a genuine presidential challenger: an old-school political heavyweight who, as governor of New Jersey, prided himself on his ability to push through ideas, even managing to unite the gaping political chasm between the left and the right as he did so. Close your eyes and think of him now, though. What do you consider? You ensure a shaven bear, dont you? You see person slow-witted and concussed standing behind Trump like a hypnotised heavy from a 1960 s episode of Batman. No matter what he does for the rest of his life , no matter how many orphanages he constructs or diseases he cures, you will always recollect Christie as a lumbering, clueless henchman. Why? Because someone took a photograph of him with Trump.

It works for his foes, too. Before he met Trump, Barack Obama was the model of cool positivity. He was young and powerful, cresting on a wave of strong opinion polls. He was yes we can, he was fired up, ready to go. But that persona evaporated for ever during his first press conference with Trump. Youth abandoned him in that moment; suddenly, he looked old and tired, like Danny Glover staggering around immediately before the White House is taken out by an oceanliner halfway through the cinema 2012. His true self was dragged to the surface by Trump.

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