Thomas Sowell

Back in 1995, Bill Clinton and the Congressional Democrats, with the aid of the media, pounded away on the theme that the Republicans had "cut" government programs, even where the Republicans had appropriated more money than these programs had ever had before.

What Republicans had cut was the amount that Clinton had asked for. You might think that this was a fairly obvious difference and that this could be explained to the public. But the Republicans failed to do so effectively.

It was painful to watch various Republican spokesmen come on television and talk about discrepancies between Congressional Budget Office statistics and statistics from the Office of Management and Budget. This might have been fascinating stuff in a seminar on accounting, but it was like Greek to many TV viewers.

If the Republicans cannot be bothered to put in the time and the hard work required to develop an effective articulation of their case, then they deserve to lose. But the country does not deserve to have disastrous policies continue.

While the case for having the government play Santa Claus is easier to make, the opposite case is by no means impossible to make. Radio talk show hosts from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity and many others make that case every day, in plain language that anyone can understand.

If Republicans still do not appreciate the enormous importance of articulation, then forcing a shutdown of the government can be another political disaster for them. So can caving in to Obama.

Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

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