Side Note

Are duels making a comeback?

During a speech at an anti-sexual assault rally at the University of Miami on Tuesday, former Vice President Joe Biden basically said he wants to — and easily could — beat up Donald J. Trump, president of these United States. Or, you know, he would’ve done it if they had gone to high school together. “They asked me if I’d like to debate this gentleman, and I said no. I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.’” The president responded, as he usually does, with a tweet:

This isn’t the first time a politician has settled things with his fists. In 2015, Mitt Romney seemed ready to pull a Tonya Harding — i.e., ditch his initial career plan and become a professional boxer — when he hilariously took on Evander Holyfield at a charity match in Salt Lake City. (Romney lost, but he said it was “great fun.”)

Duking it out with your fists (or other tools) isn’t unheard of in the annals of American history. Aaron Burr famously killed Alexander Hamilton in an 1804 duel — and in 1856, a debate about Kansas’ admittance into the union devolved into violence after South Carolina Rep. Preston Brooks, a pro-slavery asshole, beat Massachusetts Sen. Charles Sumner, an anti-slavery Republican, with a cane. Two years later, another congressional debate about Kansas turned into an all-out brawl that, per the national archives, “dissolved into a chorus of laughs and jeers” but nonetheless “powerfully symbolized the nation’s divisions.” And on Thursday, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker, who may or may not run for president had a “snowball duel” with Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who also may or may not run for president.

Is violence bad? Yes. But would it be funny to watch Trump and Biden, two literal grandpas, duke it out? Hell yeah.