Biden and Trump's Machismo Contest Is So Not What We Need Right Now

You’d think that one of the benefits of having a female candidate running for president would be avoiding any dick-measuring contests. You’d think that, but you’d be wrong. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and Vice President (and Hillary Clinton surrogate) Joe Biden have been trading fightin’ words since last Friday, and I’m already #overit. But with Trump responding Tuesday saying he’d “love” to fight Biden, it looks like this might just be the beginning.

I can see how we got here, and while I’m not happy with Biden for kicking this off, I appreciate that his intentions may have been in the right place. At a rally in Pennsylvania on Friday, Biden was discussing Trump’s nauseating remarks from the now-infamous Access Hollywood tape, on which he brags about kissing women and touching their genitals without their permission. “What a disgusting assertion for anyone to make,” Biden said.

“The press always asks me, don’t I wish I were debating him?” the vice president continued. “No, I wish we were in high school, and I could take him behind the gym. That’s what I wish.”

On Monday, Biden sought to clarify his remarks at a rally in Toledo, Ohio, saying, “I want to make it clear I understand what assault is. I’m not in high school. If I were in high school…” Biden then punched one hand into the other by way of finishing the sentence.

Trump’s rejoinder on Tuesday was in the same vein. Speaking at a campaign event in Tallahassee, Florida, he said, “I'd love that. I'd love that. Mr. Tough Guy. You know, he's Mr. Tough Guy. You know when he's Mr. Tough Guy? When he's standing behind a microphone by himself.”

Someone put me out of my misery already.

On one level, I get it. Biden, a guy who has devoted his life to public service, is spending what will likely be his last real political campaign before retirement trying to convince voters not to vote for a sexist bigot. It must be like preparing to talk about interplanetary travel, but getting sidetracked trying to convince your audience that the Earth is not, in fact, flat.

Biden even seems to have been trying to pick apart Trump’s “locker room talk” defense by putting it in its proper context: high school. “Can you imagine a guy in the locker room talking that way? And your sister's out there watching the game? Not a joke.” Even if it was locker room talk, even if it was teenage idiocy, it is still wrong, and should still not be tolerated. That’s an argument I can get behind.

But ultimately, Biden forgot the enduring wisdom of FLOTUS Michelle Obama: When they go low, we go high. Her counsel isn’t important because it’s the moral and ethical thing to do (though it is); it’s because when you go low, Joe, then you’re down there in the muck with Trump.

Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images News/Getty Images

And then it can become very difficult to tell the difference between the two of you.