If you need a little something to make you feel a bit of warmth toward Biden, in spite of the fact that he occasionally makes what I'm going to understatedly call inappropriate jokes, ahem, check out this TNR piece about how he came to be (co-)author and champion of the Violence Against Women Act.

It's a good article, especially as it details what motivated him to become an advocate for women—and this bit, in particular, significantly endeared him to me:
[A]long the way, he showed himself ready to follow the lead of female attorneys and judges. As Victoria Nourse [who was, in 1990, a Senate Judiciary Committee staffer and worked closely with Biden on VAWA] told me in a recent e-mail from her desk at Emory Law School, where she is now a professor: "[I]n a day and age when Senators were still fondling interns in the Senate elevator, he not only protected me, he listened to me, my legal advice, and by extension, all the women who talked to me."
Hearing that from a woman who worked for Biden means a hell of a lot.

The more I read about Biden from people who know him well, the more I think that he's the kind of guy who says what seems like stupid shit because he doesn't get that a joke in the public sphere does not play the same way as it does among intimates. I originally thought that his joke about the "problem" of his wife being educated was supposed to be an ironic jest about educated women generally, which isn't funny given how many people still think that shit, but the more I (think I) understand him, the more I think it was his doofy, Rat Packy, boys-don't-cry way of complimenting his wife for being smart and better educated than he is. It was a joke meant for her; the problem is that he shared it with all of us.

(That explanation also satisfies my bafflement that Obama would put Biden on his ticket even after Biden "joked" about Obama being clean and articulate. Perhaps it was an inside joke between colleagues and friends that went sour when made public—many of us tease friends by ironically invoking stereotypes in private; generally we're just smart enough to know that it's only cool in the intimate space between people who know each other, though. That seems to be the cog Biden's lacking.)

Anyway, I've still got policy problems with Biden (*cough* bankruptcy bill *cough*), but having spent some time trying to find out more about him, my personal issues with him have diminished. And, frankly, I'm always happier to deal with someone with whom I've got some policy disagreements but don't find detestable than someone for whom I can muster neither consensus nor affection.

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