It is not just Republican presidential candidates who cannot be bothered to articulate a coherent argument, instead of ad hoc talking points.
Have you yet heard House Speaker John Boehner take the time to spell out why Barack Obama's argument for taxing "millionaires and billionaires" is wrong?
It is not a complicated argument. Moreover, it is an argument that has been articulated many times in plain English by conservative talk show hosts and by others in print.
It has nothing to do with being worried about the fate of millionaires or billionaires, who can undoubtedly take care of themselves.
What we all should be worried about are high tax rates driving American investments overseas, when there are millions of Americans who could use the jobs that those investments would create at home.
Yet Obama has been allowed to get away with the emotional argument that the rich can easily afford to pay more, as if that is the issue.
But it will be the issue if no one says otherwise.
One of the recent sad reminders of the Republicans' tendency to leave even lies and smears unanswered was a television replay of an old interview with the late Judge Robert Bork, whose nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court was destroyed by character assassination.
Bork said that he was advised not to answer Ted Kennedy's wild accusations because those false accusations would discredit themselves. That supposedly sophisticated advice cost the country one of the great legal minds of our time - and left us with a wavering Anthony Kennedy in his place on the Supreme Court.
Some people may take solace from the fact that there are some articulate Republicans like Marco Rubio who may come forward in 2016.
But with Iran going nuclear and North Korea developing missiles that can hit California, it may be too late by then.
Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California. His website is www.tsowell.com.