Some might consider the Iowa
GOP platform a little extreme
COMMENTARY | August 14, 2006

Corporal punishment, no IRS and no income tax, teacher-led school prayer, concealed weapons, creationism. Should a group with a platform like that have a key role in picking presidential candidates?

This is an expanded version of acolumn that appeared in the Des Moines Register.

By Gilbert Cranberg

Iowa’s caucuses aren’t due to be held for 17 months, but scarcely a day goes by without a presidential hopeful prowling the state. In relatively short order the press corps will follow, filing the usual stories about how the candidates try to connect with down-home Iowans they chat up in living rooms and small-town cafes. Meanwhile a major story already has been missed. On June 17, the state Republican convention adopted a platform that can only be described as extremist. No mainstream news pages, including the Des Moines Register’s, reported on the event.

Since Iowa’s caucuses kick-off the presidential nominating parade, they are in an early position to boost or break candidates. The compelling question raised by the Iowa GOP’s platform is whether a party that stands for extremism ought to have undue clout in the presidential selection process. Having missed the story, the press muffed the opportunity to pursue the angle.

The 182 planks in the Republican platform are a litany of virtually every far-right-wingers’ wish list. The callous stands the party takes read like a parody of a hard-boiled skinflint’s attitude toward government, which should build prisons and conduct executions but otherwise keep its nose out of social problems. Except, of course, for abortion, which should, for all practical purposes, be outlawed. The words “needy” and “poverty” took a holiday when the platform was written.

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