‘Strength and power and influence’

‘STRENGTH AND POWER AND INFLUENCE’…. There was a fascinating exchange the other night on Fox News between Bill O’Reilly and Karl Rove, with the two evaluating President Obama’s speech in Cairo. It was brief, but helpful.

O’Reilly, wearing his devil’s advocate hat, lauded President Bush’s counter-terrorism successes, but argued that the former president simply wasn’t credible in “the Muslim world.” Rove said he “totally” disagreed. When O’Reilly pressed the point, Rove replied:

“You know what? Who cares about whether or not they approve or like the president of the United States? The question is do they respect the policies of the United States government? And you bet they did. Because we showed strength and power and influence.”

Remember, Rove was the deputy White House chief of staff, and one of the former president’s top advisors.

And as far as this guy is concerned, looking back over the last eight years, Muslims throughout the Middle East “respected the policies” of the Bush administration, and whether people in the region admire the U.S. president is entirely irrelevant.

He was serious.

In our reality, al Qaeda is scrambling to tarnish President Obama’s reputation in the region because, as Richard Clarke explained last year, the last thing terrorists want is a popular U.S. president who enjoys respect and support on the world stage.

Once in a while, it’s worth taking a moment to breathe a sigh of relief that loyal Bushies are no longer running the government.

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Steve Benen

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.