US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shake hands ahead of a working lunch, at the US ambassador's residence, on the sidelines of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN        (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
US President Donald Trump (L) and French President Emmanuel Macron (R) shake hands ahead of a working lunch, at the US ambassador's residence, on the sidelines of the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) summit, in Brussels, on May 25, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / Mandel NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Now playing
00:46
Macron: Trump handshake was moment of truth
Now playing
00:00
US coronavirus numbers coming down, but not enough
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Saud Al-Mojeb, Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor, is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. Al-Mojeb told a press conference in Riyadh Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018,  that Khashoggi's killers had been planning the operation since September 29, three days before he was killed inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
PHOTO: Virginia Mayo/AP
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Saud Al-Mojeb, Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor, is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. Al-Mojeb told a press conference in Riyadh Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, that Khashoggi's killers had been planning the operation since September 29, three days before he was killed inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
Now playing
02:52
3 names mysteriously removed from Khashoggi Intel report
Protesters take cover behind homemade shields as tear gas is fired during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 1, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: STR/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Protesters take cover behind homemade shields as tear gas is fired during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 1, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:16
Footage shows tear gas, flash bangs used on protesters in Myanmar
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
PHOTO: Seth Wenig/Pool/AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
Now playing
01:12
Gov. Andrew Cuomo responds to allegations of sexual harassment
 Psaki biden White House Khashoggi Saudi Arabia sotu bash vpx _00011629.png
PHOTO: CNN
Psaki biden White House Khashoggi Saudi Arabia sotu bash vpx _00011629.png
Now playing
03:42
Bash to Psaki: Why hasn't Saudi Arabia been held accountable for murder of Khashoggi?
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:04
NYT: Second former aide accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment
PHOTO: CNN Weather
Now playing
02:23
Over 25 million people under threat for severe storms and flash flooding
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
PHOTO: House TV
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Now playing
02:52
House passes Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:54
'Biggest trial of my life': Landlord says eviction moratorium has drained her savings
Jeremy Lin
PHOTO: Getty Images
Jeremy Lin
Now playing
03:40
Ex-NBA star Jeremy Lin says he's been called 'coronavirus' on the court
covid-19 relief package house biden sot malveaux nr vpx _00000000.png
PHOTO: CNN
covid-19 relief package house biden sot malveaux nr vpx _00000000.png
Now playing
02:28
CNN's Joe Johns explains Biden's short speech as relief bill heads to Senate
Misinformation Trump Capitol March rn orig_00004630.png
Misinformation Trump Capitol March rn orig_00004630.png
Now playing
04:08
These Trump supporters are convinced he will be president again on March 4
PHOTO: Isaac Abrack
Now playing
03:00
Hear from schoolgirl who escaped abduction in Nigeria
AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigational pharmacy technician Sara Berech holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be submitted for emergency use by late January and is the only vaccine among leading candidates given as a single dose. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigational pharmacy technician Sara Berech holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be submitted for emergency use by late January and is the only vaccine among leading candidates given as a single dose. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:19
Doctor who voted to approve Johnson and Johhnson vaccine speaks out
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 2018.
PHOTO: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 2018.
Now playing
02:10
US intel report: Saudi Crown Prince responsible for approving Khashoggi operation
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:24
Acosta corrects CPAC organizer: Trump did lose the election

Story highlights

Drama, superficiality and perception are three of the fundamental pillars of this president's worldview

To ignore them is to miss the point, to see the world in a fundamentally different way than Trump does

(CNN) —  

There’s a tendency among “serious” people to dismiss the importance of the pomp, circumstance and symbolism in politics. “Focus on the policy, not the perceptions!” they shout. Who cares about the fluff!?!?!

Emmanuel Macron, for one.

The newly elected French president told a French journal Sunday that his handshake with US President Donald Trump during a meeting during the NATO gathering in Brussels last week was about much more than just an exchange of pleasantries.

“My handshake with him, it’s not innocent,” Macron said. “It’s not the alpha and the omega of politics, but a moment of truth.”

He added: “One must show that we won’t make little concessions, even symbolic ones.”

In case you forgot the handshake, here it is:

And here’s how The Washington Post’s Philip Rucker, who was in the room for the shake, described it:

“They shook hands for an extended period of time. Each president gripped the other’s hand with considerable intensity, their knuckles turning white and their jaws clenching and faces tightening.”

For those who pooh-pooh the coverage of Trump’s White House as overly dramatic, too superficial, too focused on perceptions, I say this: Drama, superficiality and perception are three of the fundamental pillars of this President’s worldview. To ignore them is to miss the point, to see the world in a fundamentally different way than Trump does.

Remember that Trump’s two major experiences in the working world are as the face of his own eponymous brand/business and as a reality TV star. In other words, Donald Trump has been playing “Donald Trump” for virtually his entire life. And Donald Trump has been shaping what it means to be “Donald Trump” for just as long.

This, excerpted from Marc Fischer and Michael Kranisch’s “Trump, Revealed,” is, um, revealing:

“What the audience saw on TV altered their perception of the mogul they had known as an immodest dealmaker who built glitzy towers, married beautiful women and slapped his name on jets and yachts.”

“‘The Apprentice’ turned Trump from an easily caricatured Richie Rich who had just weathered some difficult years into a pop-culture truth-teller, an evangelist for the American gospel of success, a decider who insisted on standards in a country that had somehow slipped into handing out trophies just for showing up.”

For Trump, perception IS reality. (In that way, he is a sort of Platonic ideal of our modern politics.) Every interaction in public is a chance to assert dominance, to show that he’s in charge, that’s he’s the boss. Trump believes that perception creates reality. If he looks like the alpha male and the powerful leader, he becomes the alpha male and the powerful leader.

Time and again – during both his campaign and the early days of his presidency – Trump has seized any opportunity to show, in usually small ways, that dominance.

His trademark hold-and-tug handshake is, without question, his favorite power move.

There’s this one with Vice President Mike Pence:

And this now-legendary grip and tug with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch:

Trump expanded his repertoire during his trip abroad – most notably with this shove-and-preen at the expense of the Prime Minister of Montenegro.

Now playing
00:00
US coronavirus numbers coming down, but not enough
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Saud Al-Mojeb, Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor, is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. Al-Mojeb told a press conference in Riyadh Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018,  that Khashoggi's killers had been planning the operation since September 29, three days before he was killed inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
PHOTO: Virginia Mayo/AP
FILE - In this Jan. 29, 2011 file photo, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi speaks on his cellphone at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Saud Al-Mojeb, Saudi Arabia's top prosecutor, is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi. Al-Mojeb told a press conference in Riyadh Thursday, Nov. 15, 2018, that Khashoggi's killers had been planning the operation since September 29, three days before he was killed inside the kingdom's consulate in Istanbul. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo, File)
Now playing
02:52
3 names mysteriously removed from Khashoggi Intel report
Protesters take cover behind homemade shields as tear gas is fired during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 1, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
PHOTO: STR/AFP/AFP via Getty Images
Protesters take cover behind homemade shields as tear gas is fired during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon on March 1, 2021. (Photo by STR / AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Now playing
02:16
Footage shows tear gas, flash bangs used on protesters in Myanmar
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
PHOTO: Seth Wenig/Pool/AP
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at a COVID-19 vaccination site in the Brooklyn borough of New York, Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, Pool)
Now playing
01:12
Gov. Andrew Cuomo responds to allegations of sexual harassment
 Psaki biden White House Khashoggi Saudi Arabia sotu bash vpx _00011629.png
PHOTO: CNN
Psaki biden White House Khashoggi Saudi Arabia sotu bash vpx _00011629.png
Now playing
03:42
Bash to Psaki: Why hasn't Saudi Arabia been held accountable for murder of Khashoggi?
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Jeenah Moon/Getty Images
NEW YORK, NY - JULY 23: New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during the daily media briefing at the Office of the Governor of the State of New York on July 23, 2020 in New York City. The Governor said the state liquor authority has suspended 27 bar and restaurant alcohol licenses for violations of social distancing rules as public officials try to keep the coronavirus outbreak under control. (Photo by Jeenah Moon/Getty Images)
Now playing
04:04
NYT: Second former aide accuses Gov. Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment
PHOTO: CNN Weather
Now playing
02:23
Over 25 million people under threat for severe storms and flash flooding
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
PHOTO: House TV
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi
Now playing
02:52
House passes Biden's $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief package
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:54
'Biggest trial of my life': Landlord says eviction moratorium has drained her savings
Jeremy Lin
PHOTO: Getty Images
Jeremy Lin
Now playing
03:40
Ex-NBA star Jeremy Lin says he's been called 'coronavirus' on the court
covid-19 relief package house biden sot malveaux nr vpx _00000000.png
PHOTO: CNN
covid-19 relief package house biden sot malveaux nr vpx _00000000.png
Now playing
02:28
CNN's Joe Johns explains Biden's short speech as relief bill heads to Senate
Misinformation Trump Capitol March rn orig_00004630.png
Misinformation Trump Capitol March rn orig_00004630.png
Now playing
04:08
These Trump supporters are convinced he will be president again on March 4
PHOTO: Isaac Abrack
Now playing
03:00
Hear from schoolgirl who escaped abduction in Nigeria
AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigational pharmacy technician Sara Berech holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be submitted for emergency use by late January and is the only vaccine among leading candidates given as a single dose. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images
AURORA, CO - DECEMBER 15: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY) Rocky Mountain Regional VA Medical Center investigational pharmacy technician Sara Berech holds a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before it is administered in a clinical trial on December 15, 2020 in Aurora, Colorado. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be submitted for emergency use by late January and is the only vaccine among leading candidates given as a single dose. (Photo by Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images)
Now playing
03:19
Doctor who voted to approve Johnson and Johhnson vaccine speaks out
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 2018.
PHOTO: FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attends a conference in the Saudi capital Riyadh on October 2018.
Now playing
02:10
US intel report: Saudi Crown Prince responsible for approving Khashoggi operation
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:24
Acosta corrects CPAC organizer: Trump did lose the election