The 2008 document is at direct odds with how President Obama has governed. Changing it or leaving it the same would both be awkward.
When the Democratic Party holds its convention this September in Charlotte, North Carolina, President Obama's speech is likely to garner the most press attention. But I'll be most interested in how the delegates get themselves out of the pickle of their standard bearer's making: What are they going to say about civil liberties and executive power in the party platform?
Four years ago, the last time the Democrats adopted a platform, their presidential candidate
championed civil liberties, insisted that closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay would make us safer from terrorists, and righteously denounced the expansive Bush-Cheney understanding of executive power. Said the official 2008 platform contemporaneously adopted by Democratic delegates (links added):
We will restore our constitutional traditions, and recover our nation's founding commitment to liberty under law. We support constitutional protections and judicial oversight on any surveillance program involving Americans. We will review the current Administration's warrantless wiretapping program. We reject illegal wiretapping of American citizens, wherever they live. We reject the use of national security letters to spy on citizens who are not suspected of a crime ... We reject sweeping claims of "inherent" presidential power. We will revisit the Patriot Act and overturn unconstitutional executive decisions issued during the past eight years. We will not use signing statements to nullify or undermine duly enacted law. And we will ensure that law-abiding Americans of any origin, including Arab-Americans and Muslim-Americans, do not become the scapegoats of national security fears.