Trump-Biden election debate rated as worst in US history

2020-10-01 16:02:50
Trump-Biden election debate rated as worst in US history

The US election debate on Tuesday between President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger Joe Biden was widely panned as the worst presidential debate in American political history and underscored the decline of US democracy and culture.

US and Western observers said the first of the three 2020 US presidential debates produced shock, sadness and weariness among American allies and rivals alike on Wednesday.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said it intends to tighten the format before Trump and Biden face off again. The second and third Trump-Biden debates are set for October 15 and 22.

Trump, 74, insulted, blustered and shouted at both Biden, 77, and the debate moderator, Chris Wallace, and Biden responded by calling Trump a “clown” and telling him to “shut up.”

Many political experts said the chaos and tenor of the event said something more fundamental about the state of American democracy.

“The kinds of things that we saw Tuesday night in the debate are exactly the kinds of things that erode democracy. That in fact, our democracy is at risk and you can tell, by the way that political leaders talk to one another,” Jennifer Mercieca, a professor of political communication at Texas A&M University.

Many, if not most, European analysts blamed Trump for the chaotic debate.

“The debate was a joke, a low point, a shame for the country,” Markus Feldenkirchen of the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel posted on Twitter. “Roaring, insults, two over-70s who interrupt each other like 5-year-olds — and a moderator who loses all control. The trigger, of course: Trump’s uncouth, undignified behavior.”

Jeremy Shapiro, a former American diplomat who is now research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations, said that foreigners would probably view the debate “as another sign of the degradation of American democracy,” as some Americans do.

Both allies and rivals “see Trump and the political culture that created him heralding the decline of American democracy and American culture,” Shapiro said.

“Biden on that stage calling the president of the United States a clown and a liar is not something Biden would have done four years ago under any circumstances,” he said. “That he felt he has to do it is a sign to outsiders that American culture is in a cycle of decline.”

That view was shared by Nicole Bacharan, a French-American historian and political analyst who lives in France. She said she was “dismayed,” by what she saw in the debate, adding: “It sent a depressing image of the United States, of the American democracy and its role in the world.”

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