Is this trash-talking exchange a preview of 2020? Earlier this week, Joe Biden declared that he would have personally “beat the hell out of” Donald Trump in high school if he had heard Trump talking about women in his usual manner back in the day. Did anyone believe that Trump could let that kind of faux-alpha-male signaling go unanswered, especially from a potential political rival? Especially after all the time Trump spent hanging around professional rasslin’?

Yeah, this was inevitable:

Allahpundit remarked yesterday that Biden’s shot at Trump might not be bad strategy for 2020:

It scratches Democrats’ anti-Trump itch; it panders to women by presenting Biden as their valiant defender; it appeals, in theory, to the working-class voters who responded to Trump’s alpha-male swagger last time; and it distinguishes Biden from a Democratic field whose most formidable candidates are shaping up to be women. Unless Bernie Sanders runs again, the big three among current officeholders in 2020 might be Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, and Kirsten Gillibrand.

Really? Ask Marco Rubio how well that strategy works out. It’s impossible to beat Trump at this game, because he has no scruples about how to play it. He’ll just keep up the taunting and the name-calling because Trump enjoys it, and Trump knows that Joe Biden won’t. Biden’s heart isn’t in it. He wants to be the Hugger In Chief (in more ways than one), not Trump II. By getting into a game of the dozens with Trump, Biden gets farther and farther away from his own preferred identity, plus blurs the distinction between Trump and everyone else.

In that situation, voters will look at the two candidates and wind up voting for the authentic chest-beater rather than the ersatz one.

Besides, Biden isn’t exactly charming the women with this line of attack — at least not at Salon. Erin Keane told Biden to knock off the patriarchal patronization:

Can we declare a moratorium on glorifying violence, on celebrating the patriarchal ideal of man as enforcer and protector, and on equating (even in the inverse) athletic prowess with good character? Because these ingrained cultural habits have historically not been kind to women and girls.

Taking someone behind the gym and beating the hell out of him is an ego-driven enterprise, a poor way of preventing future sexual assaults, and also — oh yeah! — an illegal criminal assault. Working to change the system — as Biden has done, notably with the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, which he later found out had made no dent in campus sexual-assault statistics — can be a hard and long, collaborative process where nobody gets exactly what they want and everyone has to live with the consequences of a failed attempt. If anyone could make that sound like a bad-ass mission — as much as roughing up a creep — it would be Joe Biden, which makes me wish he’d gone for that kind of mic-drop moment instead.

There’s a lesson to be learned from this for Democrats, but so far they’ve been, ah, resistant to it. Beating Trump — if it can be done in this national mood — will require a contrast to his style, not a surrender to it. A candidate who is cool, good-humored, self-effacing, and most importantly not seen as a dishonest establishment hack might be able to prevail. Democrats instead have doubled down on dishonest and manipulative hysteria, even to the point of co-opting the French Resistance as an identity. They’re playing on Trump’s turf, just like Biden is here.

I hate to admit it, but we might have to re-evaluate the influence and prophetic vision of Frankie Goes to Hollywood, a band known more for its marketing than its talent. Their song and video “Two Tribes” was considered at the time a lame attempt at political relevance with its insipid commentary on the Cold War. Now we realize that they were just predicting the process by which the leader of the free world would be chosen:

Eh … both sides would like to think it would look like that. I’m betting on it looking more like this. Keep keep keep the peace, baby.