I have mixed feelings about the political screaming this week.

On the one hand, I love old-fashioned eye-gouging, hair-pulling, sucker-punching, full-contact politics. On the other hand, most of this week's controversy was unbearably silly.

Tom Daschle and other top Democrats assailed the president for sentiments he did not express, and blasted Dick Cheney for something he did not even say. Worse, the rhetoric became more heated as the allegations became more implausible. The worst touch: exploiting wounded war veterans by hauling them into the discussion.

There was a silver lining, however. Liberal lion Edward Kennedy delivered a civil and principled speech Friday opposing the unilateral use of force against the government of Saddam Hussein. He offered serious arguments that deserve serious responses -- and in so doing, he provided a grown up example for partisans on both sides and set the stage for what we sorely need -- a sober, reasoned and thorough debate about whether and why we ought to commit young men and women to a war thousands of miles away.