What happened
Barack Obama’s surge in polls ahead of Iowa’s Jan. 3 caucuses—the first vote of the primary season—changed the dynamics of the campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination. Front-runner Hillary Clinton, far ahead in national polls, said she was still the Democrat with the best chance of winning in next year’s general election. (The Boston Globe, free registration)

What the commentators said
Obama’s fortunes have finally changed now that he’s gone on the attack, said Clarence Page in the Chicago Tribune. His newfound confidence helped him jump into a narrow—but statistically insignificant—lead among Iowa Democrats, and the “perception of momentum” will help him attract converts the way his “rock star” status never did. “Perceptions are nine-tenths of reality in politics.”

That makes you wonder, said Fred Hiatt in The Washington Post (free registration). “Is Obama telling the American people anything they don't want to hear?” He has been blasting Clinton for an Iran policy that is close to the one he held a few months ago, before his views shifted to something more “in keeping with the pacifism of much of the Iowa electorate.”

Clinton says Obama’s promise to talk to enemies like Iran is an example of his “naivete,” said Shelby Steele in OpinionJournal.com. The idea would indeed be “far-left fantasy” if the nation’s survival were at stake, but it’s not. When war is a “matter of urgent choice” instead of “an absolute necessity,” it makes perfect sense to give diplomacy a try.