Boehner: No One Reads GOP Platform

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Amid all the cheers and jeers for the 2012 Republican Party platform, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) let slip the truth about that document: He hasn’t read it, and he doesn’t know anyone who’s ever read it or any other platform.

At a Christian Science Monitor breakfast August 27, Human Events’ John Gizzi asked Boehner about his comfort level with the recently drafted GOP platform.

“The Republican platform is circulating about in different copies, online, in print,” said Gizzi. “Based on the reports you’ve seen, is this a good document to run on fully, and in particular, the parts about auditing the Federal Reserve, number one, and the review of government agencies as to their efficiency without calling for shutting them down. Are those things you feel that Republican House members can run on comfortably?”

Boehner’s response: “Well, I have not seen the platform, but from every indication that I’ve heard I don’t see any major changes in this platform from what we have had in the past. And if it were up to me I would have the platform on one sheet of paper. Have you ever met anybody who read the party platform? I’ve not met ever anybody.”

This, to use Michael Kinsley’s definition of the word, is a gaffe: when a politician inadvertently speaks the truth. For all the haggling over the details of the Republican platform – writes that “some activists work for months just to win the right to attend the convention” and influence the platform – the fact is that no one of any consequence in the party reads, much less adheres to, the party’s statement of principles. It exists to convince the grassroots that the party leadership is listening to their concerns and intends to use them as a guide for formulating policy. In practice, however, it is largely ignored.

For example, every GOP platform since 1980 has called for the passage of a human life amendment to the Constitution and the restriction of taxpayer funding of abortion. Yet no such amendment has ever come close to passing Congress in the last 32 years; and Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, continues to receive generous federal subsidies, including $2.5 billion during the presidency of “pro-life” Republican George W. Bush, six years of which coincided with GOP control of one or both houses of Congress.

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Michael Tennant [send him mail] is a software developer and freelance writer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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