GOP needs a strong voice

The Baltimore Sun

Can you remember seeing a Republican expressing outrage? Democrats express outrage 24/7. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy alone has expressed more outrage than the entire GOP.

Democrats can lie their way around the world before Republicans can manage to mumble the truth. The case for conservatism cannot be too hard to articulate. Talk radio is dominated by articulate conservative hosts. Even the liberal print media have some very articulate conservative columnists. There are also very articulate and conservative editorial pages at The Wall Street Journal and other newspapers, as well as similarly articulate conservative periodicals such as City Journal and The Weekly Standard.

Only where it counts - in Washington - are conservatives tongue-tied. Why is one of those mysteries that may never be solved.

Even some Republican leaders recognize it. Former Republican whip Tom DeLay said as much during a recent interview on the Rush Limbaugh show. After rattling off a list of achievements by the House of Representatives when it was under GOP control, Mr. DeLay was asked why nobody knows about those achievements. He admitted that Republicans did a poor job of getting their story out.

Something similar was implicit when former House Speaker Newt Gingrich pointed out that there are congressional districts where most people have conservative values but where they are represented in Congress by a liberal Democrat.

The Republicans' verbal ineptness would be just their problem, and the rest of us could let them stew in their own juices, except for one thing. At a crucial time in the history of this country and of Western civilization, the Democrats are embracing foreign policies with a long record of defeat, which can be punctuated by the ultimate defeat, terrorist nations and movements with nuclear weapons.

That is the background against which the presidential candidates of both parties must be judged.

Among the Democrats, the various candidates all seem to be trying to outdo each other in advocating defeatist policies, as if we can unilaterally call off the war on terror by pulling out of Iraq and turning the country over to the terrorists as a base from which to destabilize the region and launch more attacks against the West.

That is why it is important, even for those of us who are not Republicans, that the Republicans come up with a candidate who not only has guts and brains but who also knows how to communicate.

Looking for an articulate Republican narrows the field considerably. The most articulate, though in different ways, are Rudolph W. Giuliani and Mr. Gingrich. Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is a well-spoken gentleman, and would probably make a good president, but the GOP already has well-spoken gentlemen, many of whom have never expressed a moment of outrage in their whole careers.

There is no question that Mr. Gingrich is politically savvy and someone with a real grasp of the larger historic issues at home and abroad. He might well make the best president of all the candidates in either party.

But what kind of presidential candidate would he make? He is certainly very articulate, but in the low-key and sometimes ironic manner of a college professor, which he once was.

It is hard to recall Mr. Gingrich expressing any outrage, even when he was falsely accused of abandoning and starving the poor by not appropriating enough money for programs to help them - even after he had in fact increased the spending for such programs.

Mr. Giuliani is a New York street kind of guy who doesn't respond to lying attacks with professorial detachment, irony and understatement. He is a fighter.

Maybe a presidential ticket of Mr. Gingrich and Mr. Giuliani, or Mr. Giuliani and Mr. Gingrich, would be the GOP's best hope - and the country's. It would certainly be a big improvement over some of the candidates the Republicans have put out there.

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University. His column appears Thursdays in The Sun. His e-mail is

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