Some lessons at the approximate midpoint of Sen. Barack Obama's week overseas:
The success of a surge is something Obama can't really account for comfortably.
But that probably won't matter -- since for purposes of the national debate, he's essentially ended the war.
But that probably won't matter, either (and the reason is only tangentially related to the media coverage Obama is getting).
Obama has moved on -- and he's taken the campaign debate with him.
He has grown in stature through his foreign trip -- and only partly because he's been received like a world leader by his hosts (how many people *ride shotgun with the king of Jordan?*), http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/07/obama-hitches-a.html been cast as a president by the news coverage, and has acted like a president by remaking the discussion over the issue that continues to pose the biggest single threat to his candidacy.
Obama jokes with ABC's Charlie Gibson Wednesday that he's "cropping a lot of gray hair over the last year and a half" to deal with worries that he's too young and inexperienced.
"There is no doubt that as somebody who has not been in the national political scene as long as John McCain, that people are going to have more questions, and I think that's perfectly appropriate," Obama said, in a portion of the interview broadcast on "Good Morning America" Wednesday.
On a nuclear Iran (a huge issue in Israel): "I'm going to do everything in my power not to have to make that choice. If Iran gets a nuclear weapon, it triggers a potential arms race, nuclear arms race in the Middle East, that is not only life threatening to Israel but it is a profound, a game-changing shift when it comes to our national security. We have to do everything we can to prevent it."
(More of that interview later Wednesday, on the "World News" broadcast and Webcast. And ABC's David Wright sits down with McCain for an interview in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., on Tuesday.)
Remember those days back when the McCain campaign taunted Obama into going to Iraq?
This was bait worth grabbing: To jumble metaphors, Obama lost the battle and is winning the war.
What really stings at McCain headquarters: "It's not pro-Obama bias in the news media that's driving the effusion of coverage, it's the news: Mr. Obama's weeklong tour of war zones and foreign capitals is noteworthy because it is so unusual to see a presidential candidate act so presidential overseas," Alessandra Stanley writes in The New York Times.
"Mr. Obama looks supremely confident and at home talking to generals and heads of state, so much so that some viewers may find the pose presumptuous -- as if Mr. Obama believes that not only is his official nomination at the Democratic convention in August a mere formality, so is the November election."
Among the very many signs of success: Obama "has remade the campaign's foreign policy playing field, neatly sidestepping Republican charges that he has been naive and wrong on Iraq and moving to a broader, post-Iraq focus on Afghanistan and Pakistan," Karen DeYoung and Jonathan Weisman writes in The Washington Post. "In essence, Obama has declared the war in Iraq all but over."