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FROM THIS EPISODE

Political platforms are called exercises in democracy that give voice to grassroots activists. But Republican chairman Reince Priebus has already said that this year's effort is, "the platform of the Republican Party. It's not the platform of Mitt Romney." Do both parties share the same risk of platforms that cater to narrow constituencies: somebody might read them. Also, President Obama warns Syria against the use of chemical weapons, and a "flash drought" on the Mississippi means it's not so mighty — at least for now.

Banner image: Dom Dada/flickr

Making News Obama Warns Syria against the Use of Chemical Weapons 7 MIN, 12 SEC

Troops and tanks swept into a town near Damascus today in another assault aimed at crushing opposition to the al-Assad regime. President Obama said the US would consider intervention if Assad attempt to use chemical or biological weapons. Adam Entous is national security correspondent for the Wall Street Journal.

Guests:
Adam Entous, Wall Street Journal (@adamentous)

Reporter's Notebook Low Waters on the Mighty Mississippi 7 MIN, 46 SEC

Low flows of water have closed the Mississippi River five times this month, most recently on Monday. Yesterday, traffic began to flow again in both directions. But clearing stalled barges is a slow process with potential consequences for the economy, raising troubling questions about the environment. We get an update from Brad Walker, Wetlands and Flood Plain Director for the Missouri Coalition for the Environment, and Bob Anderson, Spokesperson for the Mississippi Valley Division of the Army Corps of Engineers.

Guests:
Brad Walker, Missouri Coalition for the Environment
Bob Anderson, Army Corps of Engineers

Main Topic Political Party Platforms: Do They Really Matter? 35 MIN, 20 SEC

A committee of party insiders met for two days this week to write the Republican platform. It's expected to be adopted by the convention in Tampa next Monday. But the party chairman, Reince Priebus has already made it clear that it's "the platform of the Republican Party. It's not the platform of Mitt Rommey." Party platforms contain language to appease insiders, even though that carries the risk of political damage. In Tampa this week, the Platform Committee's anti-abortion plank revealed a split within the Republican Party and a potential threat to support from Independents. Advocacy of a flat tax and abolition of mortgage relief might also look too extreme. The Democrats will have to explain the embrace of same-sex marriage. When provisions cater to narrow constituencies, will politicians try to enact them if they're elected? Will the platforms have long-term influence once the conventions are over?

Guests:
Jon Ward, Huffington Post (@jonward11)
Russ Walker, FreedomWorks
Virginia Chang Kiraly, California Republican Party
Julia Azari, Marquette University
Kathryn Depalo, Florida International University

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