On Sunday, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton came face-to-face once again in the second presidential debate of the general election season. At this point in the campaign, they both had things to apologize for — Clinton had her email scandal and Trump had any number of his comments about women. Regardless of their transgressions, the way that Clinton and Trump apologized at the debate was jarringly different.
As she always is, Clinton was questioned by both Trump and the debate moderators about her use of a private email server during her time as secretary of state. As she has said before, Clinton called the decision "a mistake." Going a step further, she also said, "I'm not making any excuses."
Just before the conversation turned to Clinton's email server, the debate focused heavily on Trump's extremely lewd comments about women. Over the weekend, The Washington Post published a 2005 recording of Trump and former Access Hollywood host Billy Bush. In the recording, Trump is heard describing his physical activity with women, in a way that comes dangerously close to sounding like sexual assault. When asked about the comments, Trump said, "I'm not proud of it." He also mentioned that he had previously apologized for the statements, but he excused himself by calling the conversation "locker-room banter."
In other words, Trump was willing to make an excuse for his statements — and that excuse was "locker-room banter." It's an excuse that begs the question: What kind of locker rooms has Trump hung out in? The kinds of locker rooms that condone making implications of sexual assault should certainly be outlawed.
So, in light of Trump's debate performance, let's get one thing straight: "Locker-room banter" is not, and never will be, a valid excuse for making inappropriate comments about unsolicited physical activity toward women. That's largely because — and this is equally important — there is no excuse for making inappropriate comments about unsolicited physical activity toward women. In fact, if you are talking about unsolicited physical activity toward women, you should only be talking about how to stop such behavior.
While Trump had to answer for his comments about women during Sunday's debate, Clinton had to once again atone for her use of the private email server. Don't get me wrong: That's definitely a serious transgression that should not be ignored by voters. But Clinton has faced criticism for that decision for months, and she has stuck religiously to her message of making no excuses. Trump has simply not done the same.