So what exactly are these "controversial" provisions that elicit press interest every few years -- and which are routinely characterized as carrying the whiff of extremism? According to the piece:
The GOP's 2004 platform opposes same-sex marriage, saying "the well-being of children is best accomplished in the environment of the home, nurtured by their mother and father anchored by the bonds of marriage."
Its plank on abortion is that "the unborn child has a fundamental individual right to life, which cannot be infringed. ... Our purpose is to have legislative and judicial protection of that right against those who perform abortions."
Let's take them one at a time. Who can disagree with the former, as a matter of general principle? Is every married-mother-father home better in every case than an alternative? Of course not. But platforms deal with general principles, not individual cases.
As to the latter, two comments. First, it clears up the oft-heard accusation that Republicans want to throw women who have abortions into jail -- it clearly targets abortion providers exclusively.
Second, and more importantly, given Obama's very fringey positions when it comes to abortion (noted here by Mike Gerson today), one might profitably remind the electorate that when it comes to abortion rights, it's not the GOP candidate who's propagating the extremist views.
Finally, McCain is well-advised not to take these on. The story notes the last GOP nominee to do so was President Bob Dole. Oh, wait -- he lost (and to a president who couldn't even muster a majority), due in large part to lack of conservative enthusiasm for his candidacy.