Associated Press White House reporter Jennifer Loven was quick on Monday to declare the rescue of an American hostage a victory -- for Barack Obama. In a news analysis, Loven declared:
The U.S. economy is showing only glimmers of life and two costly wars remain in the balance, but President Barack Obama's "no drama" handling of the Indian Ocean hostage crisis proved a big win for his administration in its first critical national security test.
And: "it goes some way toward dispelling the notion that a liberal Democrat with a known distaste for war — Obama campaigned on his consistent opposition to the Iraq invasion — doesn't have the chops to call on U.S. military power."
Loven's analysis sounded like she's auditioning for the White House press office staff:
For Obama, the benefits were instantly clear: an American life saved and a major victory notched against an increasingly worrisome scourge of the seas off the Horn of Africa.
Obama's handling of the crisis showed a president who was comfortable in relying on the U.S. military, much as his predecessor, George W. Bush, did.
But it also showed a new commander-in-chief who was willing to use all the tools at his disposal, bringing in federal law enforcement officials to handle the judicial elements of the crisis.
The rescue appeared to vindicate Obama's muted but determined handling of the incident. What won't be known for some time is whether Obama will benefit politically.
When Obama campaigns for re-election, he may take Bush's approach of turning any such incident into evidence of his leadership acumen. On the other hand, Obama didn't go before the cameras Sunday to trumpet the success, instead releasing a written statement that saluted the bravery of the military and Phillips but claimed no credit for himself.
Perhaps he knew the media would give him the credit without any need for boasting.
Loven is married to Roger Ballentine, a former top aide in the Clinton White House and an adviser to the Kerry presidential campaign.