Party platforms are relics. In general, they're not much more than warmed-up talking points that tell us more about the obsessions of party activists than the central ideological principles of a party itself. There's always a struggle between the nominee, who controls the committee, and activists, who refuse to yield. The result is often contentless compromise language.

This year, some conservatives hope that the Republican National Convention's platform committee reins in their candidate's centrist impulses and tighten up some of the platform's more critical strings. What will it say, for example, about immigration? Stem cell research? Climate change?

So the RNC and the McCain campaign are pushing back -- just a little. Today, the RNC launches
GOPPlatform2008.com to reinvigorate the platform idea generation process; account users -- and anyone can sign up -- can even submit videos. The platform committee will regularly poll online participants and promises that "every submission will be catalogued and reviewed" leading up to the committee hearings at the end of August.

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RNC officials say that the Platform Committee has begun to solicit ideas from a range of Republican idea-makers and think-tank types, from young professionals who support McCain to established party barons.

Rep., Kevin McCarthy and Sen. RIchard Burr are the chair and co-chair of the committee. Here's one thing to remember about the platform fight: the hearings are scheduled for the week before the Republican National Convention -- that is, during the Democratic National Convention, so only a few news organizations will take notice.

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