John McCain has been promoting free trade on his tour of Latin American nations this week, following a shake up of key staff in the campaign. Barack Obama has been attempting to retain liberal voters while not alienating the significant evangelical demographic.

Obama ‘forced to clarify’ position on Iraq – Barack Obama’s been forced to clarify his position on the war in Iraq “first saying he might “refine” his views but later declaring his stance had remained unchanged for more than a year,” according to Reuters. The Weekly Standard was somewhat more critical, in a blog post entitled “Obama, Unrepentant Flip-Flopper:”

“Obama supported immediate withdrawal from Iraq, and now he’ll listen to the commanders on the ground if they tell him to phase out the troops slowly. Nothing has fundamentally changed with any of these issues. The only thing that has changed is that Obama became the presumptive nominee.”

Of course the McCain campaign has taken every opportunity this week to portray Obama as a ‘flip-flopper’, a move which Jonathan Chait at The New Republic thinks has been successful in “producing a lot of skeptical coverage of Obama.”

The blogosphere bites back – Mainstream media in the US has picked up on the storm which has erupted amongst the leftwing blogosphere in response to Obama policy changes in recent weeks. Barack Obama is facing a rebellion from the liberal blogosphere that helped him lock up the Democratic presidential nomination. In recent days, Obama has criticized the Supreme Court for saying that child rapists cannot be executed and refused to oppose a decision knocking down a handgun ban. He announced a plan to support “faith-based” social work and said he would vote for a bill giving immunity to telephone companies that allowed warrantless wiretapping of their customers,” says ABC News, citing backlash from blogs like Daily Kos and The Huffington Post. “Barack Obama is making me more nervous by the day,” writes Matthew Rothschild at The Progressive.

Obama’s foreign policy – “It remains to be seen whether an Obama administration can articulate a coherent progressive purpose for American foreign policy in the post-Bush era. So far, at least, his team appears to be falling back on the liberal interventionist notions of the 1990s that led us into Iraq,” writes Robert Dreyfuss at The Nation.

Karl Rove on Obama’s finances. The Wall Street Journal has published an article by Karl Rove, former senior advisor to George W Bush, analyzing Obama’s campaign funds. He looks at the Obama campaign’s assumption that they can out-fundraise McCain, takes some digs at Obama’s TV ads, and says “early television may not be as smart as it appears. Is it wise for Mr. Obama to spend almost as much on ads in three weeks in July as he raised in May? His fund raising peaked in February. June’s fund-raising numbers, due in mid-July, will show whether his current pace of spending can be sustained.”

The history of the race issue. “To measure fully the historical significance of Barack Obama’s candidacy for the US presidency, it is worth recalling what the White House looked like in 1961, the year of his birth. It helps, also, to summon up the racial vernacular of the time, when African-Americans were commonly referred to as Negroes, outside their communities and within,” writes Nick Bryant at The Australian Literary Review. Wonderful feature which looks at the history of race relations in US politics, and how Obama is striving to accommodate the race issue without being defined by it.