Seeking Common Ground
Did the delay in holding the meeting make Mr. Turnbull nervous? It’s hard to tell from the video, but the wait was widely seen in Australia as a snub — and Mr. Turnbull seemed eager to overcome any awkwardness caused by it.
After Mr. Trump repeatedly remarked that it had been “a big day” because of the House vote, the Australian prime minister chimed in: “I know the feeling. We have challenges with our Parliament, too.”
He went on to explain the Australian legislative process in more detail than Mr. Trump may have needed.
“He was very keen to find common ground and very keen to find personal chemistry with the president,” said Stephen Loosley, chairman of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a think tank in Canberra. “Malcolm was laying it on with a trowel, to use the classic Australian saying for when you’re being generous with your praise of someone.”
Mr. Loosley said it made sense for Mr. Turnbull to compliment Mr. Trump on a win on Capitol Hill, but Tony Walker, a former Washington correspondent for the Australian Financial Review, disagreed, calling it “a bit schoolboyish.”
“Congratulating Trump on the passage of the health care legislation through the House wouldn’t have sat well with a lot of Australians,” he said.
“It’s certainly a long way away from the universal health care that we have in…