What happened
Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama has made a series of statements recently in an apparent appeal to centrist voters. Obama said he supports gun-ownership rights, and would consider cutting corporate taxes. On July 3, he said he would "continue to refine my policies'' on the Iraq War. (Bloomberg)

What the commentators said
Obama’s shift on Iraq is a “small but important step” toward adjusting to the “strategic realities of the war he will inherit,” said The Washington Post in an editorial. He came up with his “rigid” plan to withdraw U.S. forces when the country “appeared to be sliding into a sectarian civil war,” but he needs a new position that reflects improvement on the ground and “gives him the freedom to be an effective commander-in-chief.”

“The delightful irony,” said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal, is that Obama’s “prospective task in Iraq has been made infinitely easier by the success of President Bush's surge, the very policy he derided only a year ago.” And if Obama is “serious about ensuring a ‘stable Iraq,’ he’ll have to warm up to the idea of maintaining a residual American presence to train and support Iraqi security forces.

Obama says he doesn’t plan any “significant” changes to his Iraq policy, said Bob Herbert in The New York Times. But his move away from “progressive issues” has supporters, who flocked to him because they believed “that something new in American politics had arrived,” worried that “he’s doing the Obama two-step on the issue that has been the cornerstone of his campaign: his opposition to the war in Iraq.”

Obama was against the decision to launch the war, said Tom Curry in MSNBC, but, despite the “media tizzy” over his recent remarks, he has voted in the Senate against both withdrawing troops from Iraq and forcing a withdrawal by cutting off funding for military operations in Iraq. His Iraq plan has always involved some kind of continued troop presence—the question of how many and for how long remains to be answered.