Well, okay, Mike Huckabee said he was sorry “his remark (about Barack Obama being in the line of fire) was offensive” and Sunday on Meet the Press he confessed he had said a dumb thing not for the first time and probably not for the last and he was sorry, and what else could he say. Exactly.

The trouble with so many candidates, and not always Republicans either, is that they say things that go to the core of defining who they are – – that the words themselves, offensive as they may be, only tell half the story. When questioned about the possibility he might be a vice presidential nominee Huckabee declared himself a faithful and admiring supporter of Senator McCain without expressing willingness to accept the call other than to say he couldn’t imagine anyone with whom he’d rather share a ticket.

Motoring on about questionable gambits, Huckabee allowed as how when McCain turned the Beach Boys “Barbara Ann” into “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” he thought it was funny, dimpling up as he recalled what a hoot it was, even though the candidates took some heat over the incident. That quirky sense of humor among party stalwarts isn’t just light-hearted banter. It is a sign that the Republican field tends toward an unsettling tone-deaf quality rather like the current occupant of the White House who found it amusing to engage in a pretend-to- find-the-WMD at a Press Correspondents’ dinner, among other decidedly unfunny public embarrassments.

The point is that nothing about the mess the world is in or our government’s part in adding to the tumult with its disastrous foreign-policy decisions is funny on any level.

Much is often made about Barack Obama’s limited experience in foreign affairs and his supposed lack of judgment for not disconnecting from Pastor Wright early on. But what we have as current leaders is a group of politicians like John McCain who’ve been around forever without necessarily making wise decisions regarding our country or the part it should play in the world, and who joke about situations that should only be addressed in the most serious manner.

There’s a callousness about political wannabe comedians who try to distract the American people by dancing around issues with improbable explanations for the intractable conditions they have created. By constantly changing the rationale behind their actions, and by treating deadly serious events dismissively, this administration has managed to convince some supporters that things are going well in Iraq, that we should just keep smiling and, as the president directed after 9/1: shop and travel.

Among the dear or near departed are Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Bremer and those advisors still shuffling around in dark corners of the administration who helped engineer the invasion of Iraq, who under-value human life and infuse reality with obtuse strategies – – like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, and the very special Ahmed Chalabi. Does anyone find their part in the debacle that is our Iraq involvement amusing? Can we laugh off the fact that, gee, the buffoons running the country thought our encounter there would be over in a matter of months and Iraq would come to epitomize the flowering of democracy in the Middle East? Well, actually, that is sort of funny: in a three-stooges kind of world, outrageous slapstick sometimes produces laughter.

But in the real world, while we might hope to have leaders with a sense of humor, that personal trait should never migrate into areas that require substantive evaluations of national policy or public figures. Laughter may release daily tensions; however, allowing humor to intrude on the serious nature of our government’s decision-making process simply shows a lack of sound judgment, repeated claims of experience notwithstanding.

Senator McCain and his pal Huckabee have a habit of trying to be funny in that cringe-producing way one’s most embarrassing relative has. May they amuse themselves by making toasts at weddings and other family events, not by doing stand-up in the White House.