I KNOW, I know. Politics is a serious business, and the process of choosing an American president should not be made light of. But some things you just have to bust out laughing at, and one of them is when former senator John "Haircut" Edwards, a fabulously wealthy North Carolina trial lawyer, solemnly declares: "I'm not sure I know what a rich person is."
That dollop of insincerity came during his response to the New Hampshire voter who asked the Democratic candidates in last night's presidential debate what exactly they mean by "rich" when they vow to roll back tax cuts for the rich. That may have been the funniest moment of the entire two-hour event.
Or maybe the funniest moment was when the young wife of a New Hampshire soldier serving in Iraq asked the candidates what they would do to rebuild the US military, and Representative Dennis Kucinich vowed to cut the defense budget by 25 percent.
Or when Senator Hillary Clinton, who refuses to take part in a presidential debate co sponsored by Fox News, denounces the Bush administration for having a policy of "we don't talk to people we don't agree with or think are bad."
Or when former Alaska senator Mike Gravel, asked how Bill Clinton would be used in a Gravel administration, said he would send the former president "around the world, use him as a roving ambassador" -- then added, without missing a beat: "He could take his wife with him."
But in truth, last night's debate wasn't funny. It was worrisome. Worrisome that in 120 minutes of talk, not one of the Democratic candidates had anything substantive to say about the global jihad. Worrisome that all but one of the Democrats oppose legislation to declare English the official language of the United States. Worrisome that on the issue they spent the most time discussing -- the war in Iraq -- not one spoke seriously or responsibly about the consequences of an American withdrawal.
Ready for prime time? No, not yet. Fortunately, it isn't prime time yet -- the election is more than 16 months away. If you weren't tuned in last night, don't worry.