SHUKRAN…. Now he’s done it.

King Abdullah also noted the ties between the two nations, which he said go back to the 1930’s and President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the late King Abdul-Aziz.

He endorsed Obama’s election win, calling him “a distinguished man who deserves to be in this position.”

“Shukran,” Obama said, which is “thank you” in Arabic.

The president’s use of an Arabic word has apparently sparked some interest because, well, I’m not sure why. When Obama chatted with a French journalist yesterday, he said, “Bonjour,” and no one seemed to care. (It’s good to know Arabic is still more controversial, as a language, than French.)

But before anyone gets too excited about this, Spencer Ackerman reminds us that Gen. David Petraeus told the press last fall, as he was wrapping up his tenure as U.S. commander in Iraq, “As-Salamu ‘Alaykum, masa’ al-kheir, good afternoon to all of you, and shukran jaziilan for joining us for today’s roundtable.”

Spencer added, “Can we really trust military commanders who speak other languages on occasion? … Come to think of it, have we ever really seen Petraeus’s birth certificate?”

I’d just add that none other than George W. Bush told his Iraqi hosts, “Shukran,” late last year, shortly before having a shoe thrown at him.

Something to consider before Fox News starts scrutinizing the “significance” of the president’ comment.

Steve Benen

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.