What Happened With the Democratic Platform?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 5 2012 3:14 PM

What Happened With the Democratic Platform?

CHARLOTTE -- This is the paradox of convention reporting. There are thousands of reporters here. (You hear the 15,000 number, but that includes some camera crews and whatnot, not reporters digging out their own stories.) These reporters complain that there's not eneough real news at the convention. And yet outside of the conservative media, there's no group of reporters hunting down members of the platform committee asking them why the Israel language changed.

But everybody's starting to realize that the Democrats kicked an own goal. Nobody would have paid attention to the platform language if it had just stayed the same. I asked Michael Yaki, who ran the platform committee in 2008, and who's now one of the Democratic appointees to the Commission on Civil Rights, what might have occured.

I don't know what happened. When I ran the Platform, I made sure I had staff comparing 1992-2004 to ensure that we had all the key planks. We had experts from the policy staff vetting each plank, but I can tell you that there were a couple of times that things got past people on a first draft, but never on the second or final draft. I said this in 1992 when I worked on the platform, and in 2008 when I ran it -- the best platforms don't generate controversy and certainly do no harm. There was a calculated decision to make sure "God" was in our platform, and the Jerusalem language was one of those that popped up on the plank comparison as non-negotiable. I don't know what happened, but I'm inclined to believe it was just an error, not a calculated decision.

The great irony of the whole "God" issue is that the 2008 platform's divine reference was just an aside, a reference to "God-given" talents. Hell, you could have dropped in a line about the "godforsaken" practices of Bain Capital and cleared the CTRL+F test.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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