Opinion: Barack Obama’s platform plan and a suggested new name

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The prospect of a freewheeling approach to cobbling together the Republican Party platform this summer looms as a possible headache for John McCain, given a plan by conservatives, reported this week by the Washington Post, ‘to prevent his views on global warming, immigration, stem cell research and campaign finance from becoming enshrined’ in the document.

Barack Obama, for his part, apparently is unworried that some liberals, restive in thinking that he is tacking toward the political middle a bit too much these days (a concern detailed most vividly in this New York Times column by Bob Herbert), will make for a chaotic platform-making process.

Indeed, today his campaign unveiled a plan that envisions ‘everyday people all across America’ holding mini-platform meetings later this month.

How better to deal with summer doldrums?

A release on Obama’s website asserts: ‘Traditionally, the platform is written by paid professionals and then presented to the American people. This year, that’s going to change.’

Maybe, maybe not. But we’d like to offer a tweak to the name the Obama folks have attached to the initiative.


They’re calling it ‘Listening to America: the Democratic Platform for Change.’

We much prefer the moniker coined by our Times colleague Bill Loving: Wiki-platform.

Perhaps ‘paid professionals’ won’t be writing the platform, but a party pro will be in charge of the committee that drafts it -- Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (pictured above), the Obama campaign announced. (She gets mentions as a potential vice presidential nominee, though that isn’t a particularly exclusive club at the moment.)

With the convention due to start in less than seven weeks, the real challenge for Obama doesn’t involve a manifesto that virtually no one will read. Rather, as the Wall Street Journal reminded today (in a piece requiring a signup to read fully online), it is ‘whether and how’ Hillary Clinton’s name is placed in nomination at the gathering in Denver.

--Don Frederick