The unedifying spectacle of Tuesday night’s presidential debate produced some shock, some sadness and some weariness among both America’s allies and its rivals on Wednesday.
As President Trump bellowed, blustered and shouted down both the moderator, Chris Wallace, and his opponent, former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., and as Mr. Biden responded by calling Mr. Trump a “clown,” many wondered if the chaos and tenor of the event said something more fundamental about the state of American democracy.
“Of course, the ultimate arbiter will be the American voter,” said Ulrich Speck, an analyst with the German Marshall Fund in Berlin. “But there is a consensus in Europe that this is getting out of hand, and this debate is an indicator of the bad shape of the American democracy.’’
There was always a sense among allies that in America, despite political disagreement, “there is one republic, and conflict will be solved by debate and compromise,” and “that power was married to some kind of morality,” Mr. Speck said.
But that view is being questioned now, he said: “The debate was really no debate at all, but two people pursuing their strategies.”
John Sawers, a former British diplomat and head of a risk analysis firm, said simply: “My own response is that it makes me despondent about America. The country we have looked to for leadership has descended into an ugly brawl.”
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