Veteran Middle East diplomat and likely Obama State Department official Martin Indyk writes in Time that Obama will probably oversee a Gaza cease-fire in the opening days of his administration, and inherit some unwelcome "branding" headaches:

Negotiating the cease-fire package should be the job of the Secretary of State; the President's task is at the higher level of branding his Administration's approach to resolving the larger Palestinian problem.

This is urgent because Islamic extremists--from al-Qaeda to Hizballah to Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad--have gained great advantage from the anti-American anger in the Arab and Muslim world that the Gaza crisis has brought to a boil. They had feared that Obama, with his appealing narrative and middle name, would calm the waters and so dilute their influence. They now see an opportunity in the Gaza crisis to brand Obama as no different from Bush.

P.S. Indyk and Richard Hass lay out a Middle East strategy at length in a new Foreign Affairs essay, which I haven't yet read but which former AIPAC honcho Steve Rosen proclaims, for reasons unstated, "profoundly disturbing." 

--Michael Crowley