« BACK  |  PRINT

RS

FRONT PAGE CONTRIBUTOR

McCain and Obama: A Tale of Two Platforms

McCain's Forbearance, Obama's Abortion Extremism

A little compare-and-contrast regarding the party platforms. On the GOP side, John McCain has decided against a bitter battle to bend the party platform to match his own idiosyncratic views:

Republicans are inviting suggestions for their party platform this year, and thousands have responded online. But when a committee meets to draft the document in Minneapolis next week, one voice will be largely absent: John McCain’s.The Republican standard-bearer is at odds with his party on such hot-button issues as global warming, immigration, campaign-finance overhaul, stem-cell research, drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Many party stalwarts are also deeply skeptical when it comes to judicial nominations, given his Senate record.Instead of fighting with party activists to form the platform around his own ideas, Sen. McCain has taken a hands-off approach. He “is a voice in this process,” says Steven Duffield, executive director of the platform committee. But “this is ultimately a party platform,” he adds. Sen. McCain seems to agree. “The delegates are going through the process and we are going to let them work their will on the platform,” campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker said in an email in response to questions about drafting the party platform.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama’s own staff was principally involved in writing the Democrats’ platform:

Platform writers for Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton worked side-by-side Saturday as the Democratic Party developed a policy statement to promote nominee-in-waiting Obama and keep Clinton backers involved.The 20-member drafting committee heard Friday and Saturday morning from scores of party regulars, policy experts and hard-luck Americans before beginning a draft of the platform, which goes before the full platform committee Aug. 9 in Pittsburgh.The committee, meeting through Sunday, reviewed a 44-page document principally written by Karen Kornbluh, who has worked on Obama’s Senate staff. She said the draft included Obama and Clinton materials and was meant to highlight renewing core American goals.

As Ezra Klein notes, “[t]his whole process was quarterbacked by Obama’s Senate policy director, Karen Kornbluh…”

Now, on one level this is unsurprising; Obama’s trying to be a transformational figure and leader of his party, so you’d expect him to want his stamp put on the platform; McCain’s a long-time dissenter from various party orthodoxies who claimed the nomination without really being embraced by his party’s base, so he needs to avoid unnecessary battles over his long-term impact on the party’s direction. But the major reason why Obama’s role matters is that the Obama platform takes significant steps to strip away even the tepid Clinton-era nods in the platform towards rhetorical moderation on abortion. We may hear the media feed us the every-four-years perennial “Republican platform fight about abortion” stories anyway, but it’s the Democratic nominee who is leading his party further away from the center on the most divisive issue of the day.

Get Alerts