‘Incomprehensible Squabble’: International Media Slams Trump-Biden Debate As National Humilation For America
“National humiliation”, “chaotic” and “incomprehensible squabble” were some of the words used by the international media to describe a testy presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden, which saw Biden attacking Trump’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic while the President failed to condemn white supremacists.
The Chinese state-controlled newspaper Global Times wrote that Wednesday night’s debate “just showed the world a divided and chaotic U.S. that is no longer an attractive superpower in terms of politics and soft power,” adding that the event largely reflected “the recession of U.S. national power.”
Senior Indian news anchor and India Today’s consulting editor Rajdeep Sardesai commented on the debate, tweeting: “Chaotic state of American politics makes us look good at times. Maybe, need one of our noisy, rude, interrupting spokespersons to take Trump on!”
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Indian newspaper Hindustan Times also dismissed Trump’s attack on India’s poor handling of climate change, stating Trump has falsely repeated the claim that India was getting preferential treatment in the Paris Accord “without any proof or truth.”
Some of the sharpest reactions to the debate, however, came from the European media with British newspaper The Guardian calling the debate a “national humiliation for America” adding that “If Trump is re-elected… this dark, horrifying, unwatchable fever dream will surely be the first line of America’s obituary.”
British daily The Times wrote that it was not a “debate in any meaningful sense,” adding “It was an ill-tempered and at times incomprehensible squabble between two angry septuagenarians who palpably loathe each other,” and that the “clearest loser” from the debate “was America.”
Spanish daily El País called the first debate a “chaotic and virulent spectacle,” adding that the “duel will not go down in history as one of the debates that ultimately determined the fate of an election, but as a sign of the hostile climate that prevails in the country five weeks before the election.”
The Financial Times editorial board wrote that the “bleakest lesson of the night, is that fears for the election itself are warranted. Mr. Trump did not just waver and dissemble when asked whether he would accept defeat in November. He also urged his supporters to go to polling stations and ‘watch very carefully’ because ‘bad things happen’.” The editorial added that Trump may view “a tainted election, perhaps resolved by the courts, as his best chance of remaining in power. At the least, if he can persuade a large minority of Americans that he was cheated, it would open the way for him or a relative to run as an aggrieved party in 2024.”
Unlike other European outlets, an editorial on the Russian state-funded Russia Today sided with Trump, stating: “Trump did not behave the way Americans have been taught a sitting president should. Instead, he acted like a journalist, peppering Biden with tough questions he never gets from the press,” adding that “Biden was literally working from a set of prepared talking points…and simply dismissing everything Trump said as a lie.”
While conversations about foreign policy were very thin, Trump used the debate stage to criticize various foreign powers. “We built the greatest economy in history, we closed it down because of the China plague,” Trump said. When attacked by Biden for the U.S. having the highest number of coronavirus related deaths, Trump questioned the numbers being shared by China, India and Russia. “When you talk about numbers you don’t know how many people died in China, you don’t know how many people died in Russia, you don’t know how many people died in India,” Trump said. On the issue of China, Biden slammed Trump for not sending people on the ground in China to Wuhan to investigate the virus: “[Trump] did not ask Xi to do that. He told us what a great job Xi was doing, he said we owe him a debt of gratitude for being so transparent with us.” Biden was particularly scathing about Trump’s relationship with Russian leader Vladimir Putin, calling him “Putin’s puppy.”
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