AL QAEDA’S LOSING HAND…. Richard Clarke, the former counterterrorism coordinator for the National Security Council, explained in October that the last thing al Qaeda would want is an Obama presidency, in large part because the terrorist network wouldn’t want a U.S. president who enjoys respect and support on the world stage.

Three months later, Obama is the president, and as predicted, the terrorist network is feeling a little panicky.

Soon after the November election, al-Qaeda’s No. 2 leader took stock of America’s new president-elect and dismissed him with an insulting epithet. “A house Negro,” Ayman al-Zawahiri said.

That was just a warm-up. In the weeks since, the terrorist group has unleashed a stream of verbal tirades against Barack Obama, each more venomous than the last. Obama has been called a “hypocrite,” a “killer” of innocents, an “enemy of Muslims.” He was even blamed for the Israeli military assault on Gaza, which began and ended before he took office.

“He kills your brothers and sisters in Gaza mercilessly and without affection,” an al-Qaeda spokesman declared in a grainy Internet video this month.

The torrent of hateful words is part of what terrorism experts now believe is a deliberate, even desperate, propaganda campaign against a president who appears to have gotten under al-Qaeda’s skin. The departure of George W. Bush deprived al-Qaeda of a polarizing American leader who reliably drove recruits and donations to the terrorist group.

“They’re highly uncertain about what they’re getting in this new adversary,” said Paul Pillar, a former CIA counterterrorism official. “For al-Qaeda, as a matter of image and tone, George W. Bush had been a near-perfect foil.”

And now Obama’s messing up their plans in a big way. Not only do polls show widespread support for the new U.S. president throughout the Muslim world, but Obama has taken additional steps in office that generate even more support, including beginning the process of closing the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay and ending the war in Iraq.

The more Obama makes decisions that curry favor in the Middle East, the more al Qaeda feels desperate to shift public opinion. The Post noted that the “verbal attacks have become sharper, more frequent and more clearly aimed at Muslim audiences,” as Obama moves away from Bush’s policies.

Rita Katz, who created the Site Intelligence Group, a private company that monitors jihadist communications, said the terrorist’s hysterical rants against the president show “just how much al-Qaeda is intimidated by Obama.”

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Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.