"One of the most important political surprises is how quickly the surge has made Iraq safe for Barack Obama's foreign policy -- and for the election policy of the Iraqi prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki," Tom Friedman writes in his New York Times column. "McCain, who called the surge right, may get little credit, because the story now is about post-surge Iraq."
Said Friedman, on Obama's trip, on "Good Morning America" Wednesday: "Did he just get a master's degree in Middle East studies? But you have to think he comes back a little wiser, a little smarter."
Obama looks both wise and smart politically mid-way through the trip.
Los Angeles Times headline: "Obama turns focus from war to peace."
New York Daily News: "Obama hits grand slam in Mideast tour."
"Obama's four-day visit to the combat zones was a political tour de force, generating mega-coverage back home that left McCain gasping for traction," the Daily News' Thomas M. DeFrank reports. "For the most part, he performed credibly, coming across as thoughtful and engaging, comfortable with his surroundings and, as Obama's handlers had expected, acing the visuals."
"Unless he screws up in Israel or Europe, he's already won the week," a former Bush White House aide tells DeFrank. DeFrank piles on: "With 104 days until the balloting, this election is far from over. Obama-mania notwithstanding, McCain is still near even with him in national polls. But whatever happens, this has been Obama's best week since winning North Carolina in May."
"Obama's trip put him among ancient ruins on a hilltop, fielding questions on international issues in an outdoor news conference with the backdrop a majestic view of Jordan's capital," Mike Dorning writes for the Chicago Tribune.
"He dined with King Abdullah II of Jordan at his palace and was chauffeured to his departing plane by the king, who drove Obama to the jet's stairs in his Mercedes 600," Dorning writes. "The day's events provided the imagery of a candidate appearing poised and confident in the international arena, with no major gaffes to further a story line of inexperience."
Obama was tired at the start of a very long day in Israel and the West Bank Tuesday. He's already had a few meetings, and visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, per ABC's Jake Tapper.
"I could fall asleep standing up," Obama said at breakfast, per ABC's Jake Tapper and Sunlen Miller.
Per the AP's David Espo: "Barak's office issued a laconic statement saying the two discussed all the relevant issues' and the 'future challenges facing Israel and the region' - which meant they most likely discussed Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts and Israel's determination that Iran not be allowed to build atomic bombs."
And this is an important day: Obama "has struggled to reassure Jewish voters and in doing so has angered some in the Arab world with his pro-Israel statements," Jeff Zeleny writes in The New York Times. "Now, his meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders could well present the most politically trying day of his weeklong overseas trip."
"Sen. Barack Obama's tour of Israel Wednesday is intended to help connect better with American Jews, but the Democratic presidential candidate has two big problems here: Iran and Iraq," Cam Simpson and Jay Solomon write for The Wall Street Journal.