Last week’s first presidential debate between US President Donald Trump and his opponent, the Democratic Party’s Joe Biden, was universally panned as the worst presidential debate ever. Critics said the debate had embarrassed America in the eyes of the world. Some in Europe said the debate showed the decline of the US as a global power. Mainland Chinese internet users were gleeful (delighted). They mocked (ridiculed, insulted) American democracy. I watched the whole debate. Some of the barbs the two used against each other were shocking. Biden called Trump a liar and a clown and told him to shut up. Trump said Biden came last in class and kept interrupting when it was Biden’s turn to speak.
Even though the debate was universally panned, I don’t think it shows the decline of the US as a global power. It is silly for mainland internet users to mock American democracy when China doesn’t even allow such democratic debates. The word “universally” means by everyone or in every case. The word “pan” has many meanings but the word “panned” used this way as a slang word means severely criticized. The expression “universally panned” means severely criticized by everyone. The word “barb” is the sharp part of a fish hook that makes it difficult for fish to get unhooked. But used this way, the word “barb” means an insult.
Neither Trump nor Biden won a clear victory in the debate although some polls said Biden won by a small margin. Trump is trailing Biden in opinion polls on who will win the election. The word “trailing” used this way means losing or not doing as good as another person. Who will win the election on November 3? No one knows. It is still up in the air. When something is “up in the air”, it means it is uncertain or no decision has been made. Trump was also trailing in the polls when he ran against Hillary Clinton in 2016 but he won the election.
即使這場辯論備受普遍的批評（universally panned），我卻不認為它反映美國作為世界大國的實力正在衰退。當中國至今還未容許有這樣的民主辯論時，內地的中國網民卻在嘲諷（mock）美國的民主，便實在愚笨得可以。Universally的意思是人人、普遍地、一般地。 Pan有許多意思，但 panned一字在這裡則作俚語用，解作猛烈抨擊。習語“universally panned”就是指被所有人猛烈抨擊。Barb是魚鈎的倒鈎，令魚上釣後不那麼容易脫鈎；但在這裏，barb則解作侮辱、傷人的惡語。
雖然一些民調顯示，拜登比特朗普略勝一籌，但其實在這場辯論中，特朗普和拜登都沒有壓倒性地勝過對方。在估算誰會勝出總統大選的民調中，特朗普落後於（trailing）拜登。 Trailing在這裏是指落後，或表現不及另一人。誰會勝出十一月三日的選舉？沒有人知道，現時仍是 up in the air。當某事是 up in the air，意即它是懸而未決、未能確定。二○一六年當特朗普對戰希拉莉‧克林頓時，他在民調中也是落後（trailing）於人，最終卻勝出了選舉。
Michael Chugani褚簡寧 中譯：七刻
Michael Chugani 褚簡寧