Francois Mori / AP
The world was watching the US presidential debate on Tuesday night, and what they saw was not pretty.
A “national humiliation”, noted the Guardian UK “Cacophonic, the franceinfo press agency nodded. German public broadcaster DW rated things a lot more downright. And the main Israeli TV presenter tweeted “Condolences to America,” writing, “It’s hard to stoop lower than that.”
The global reaction to the debate between President Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden was largely similar to the reactions in the USA. But for many international observers, Tuesday’s show was not only inappropriate; it represented an America in decline, arousing pity in some cases, and in others, leading some to question whether democracy is a political system worth embracing.
Olivier Douliery / AP
“This Trump-Biden face-to-face was like the year 2020, trying for the whole world but particularly difficult politically in the United States”, noted an editorial in the French newspaper The world.
DW International Editor-in-Chief Richard Walker noted the event would be “seen as further evidence that American democracy is in a pretty dismal state.”
Walker worried about how the “undemocratic parts of the world” would perceive him. “China, for example, sees its authoritarian system as the best way,” he said. “They can quite easily point their finger at this debate and say, ‘Is this what you want? Is democracy what you want? Or isn’t our way better?’ “
For many Chinese viewers, the chaos of the debate mirrored that of the United States in general.
“Is it an American civilization? One person wrote on the Chinese Twitter application Weibo, the South China Morning Post reported. Another user said: “I would feel hopeless if I were an American.”
Chinese analysts noted the apparent futility of a debate that reflected entrenched beliefs without offering a way forward.
“Unfortunately, based on this debate, this is not a sign that such a confrontation and divergence could be overcome, no matter who takes the reins,” said Zhang Tengjun, who studies US politics at the China Institute. international studies. World time in an article titled “Chaotic Trump-Biden Debate Shows ‘Recession of American Influence, National Power’.”
At one point, Biden called Trump a “Putin’s puppy” – recalling a remark by Hillary Clinton during the 2016 debates, when she called Trump a “Putin”puppet. “
Invited to comment, Dmitry Peskov, spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin, told reporters in Moscow: “Of course, we are seeing a new trend in political culture and electoral culture in the United States. But we don’t want to comment on it and do evaluations, because it would immediately be seen as an attempt to interfere.”
A presenter on Russian state television said: “The candidates behaved like their constituents – the brawls in the streets of American cities have not stopped for several months. America is divided and inflamed.
Makoto Watanabe, Professor of Communication at Hokkaido Bunkyo University of Japan, Recount the South China Morning Post that his peers lamented that Americans are now in an “unhappy” position.
“I thought it was pretty symbolic of the polarization of American politics over the past decade, with the two leaders and their respective camps having no dialogue between them,” he said.
Former British diplomat John Sawers Recount the The New York Times that the debate left him “disheartened” by America: “The country we turned to for leadership has fallen into a nasty brawl.”
Watching the debate was quite trying for English speakers; some international broadcasters had to scramble to interpret the conversation for their audiences as Trump, Biden and Fox News moderator Chris Wallace all spoke to each other.
Mandarin-speaking Taiwanese Yahoo News presenter Catherine Lu said she “couldn’t recognize words, just voices all intertwined,” the South China Morning Post reported. “It’s hard to understand what anyone’s point of view is,” she exclaimed during her live broadcast.
The international reaction to the debate is in line with many The Pew Research Center reports that America’s international image suffered during Trump’s presidency. A report this month revealed that in almost every country a majority has unfavorable opinions about America.
But as messy as the debate was, at least one observer noted that tradition should not be taken for granted.
“For all the talk about how serious this debate is, at least you have one,” Hungarian journalist Andras Petho said tweeted. “In Hungary, the last debate before the general elections dates back to 2006.”
Lucian Kim of NPR contributed to this report.