- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 1, 2004

NEW YORK (AP) — Republicans have a plank on just about everything. They’ve taken positions not only on disabled people and hunters, but specifically on disabled hunters. They found 80 different things to “applaud” in their platform, 17 to “hail” and a dozen to “commend.”

The platform approved at the party’s convention is the longest in at least a generation, perhaps the longest ever.

At nearly 48,000 words, it comes in at more than twice the length of the Democratic platform, and puts the party on record on matters to do with Burma, Internet spam, “vital sea lanes of the Indian Ocean” and newfangled Wi-Fi and Wi-Max technology.

And Wi-not? Republicans say President Bush has done a lot in four years and the platform is one place to talk about them.

There are a lot of countries in the world, too, and the platform marches through a long list of them, finding some things to criticize, but much to praise. “We hail the continuing cooperation of Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Uganda, Tanzania and other African nations in the war on terror,” it says.

In their 1856 platform, for their first national convention, Republicans managed in barely 1,000 words to address the momentous issues of their time — opposing repeal of the Missouri Compromise, opposing extension of slavery into the territories, favoring the admission of Kansas as a Free State, demanding a railroad to the Pacific and improved rivers and harbors.

The party slammed polygamy, too, calling that issue and slavery the “twin relics of barbarism.”

“My humble opinion is, platforms ought to be general statements of principle with only limited specific policy issues discussed,” said political scientist Peter Schramm, director of the Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs at Ashland University in Ohio. He laments the groaning weight of the cluttered modern platforms.

“You can’t be eloquent when you’re writing 48,000 words.”

The 2004 platform says more about Africa than some historic platforms say about everything. It has so much to say about so many things that even subjects typically associated with Democrats are tackled with greater depth — or at least more verbiage — by Republicans.

The 19,500-word Democratic statement of principles, for example, makes only passing reference to homelessness, and sounds Republican in the process: “We will strengthen the role of faith-based organizations in meeting challenges like homelessness.”

Republicans sound Democratic on the subject.

“We support efforts to end chronic homelessness by providing support services and housing for chronically homeless individuals,” they say, just for starters.

Hunters are mentioned in both party platforms. Reflecting Democratic candidate Sen. John Kerry’s interest in hunting since age 12 and especially his need to get votes from a chunk of gun owners, the Democratic platform pledges to open “millions of new acres of land to public hunting and fishing.”

Republicans “applaud efforts by the Bush administration to make more public lands available to hunters … and to improve opportunities for hunting for Americans with disabilities.”

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