“Mr. Bush said Putin’s recent harsh comments toward the West suggests he may be trying to build support for his party in advance of next year’s elections, and the president saw that as positive. He said, quote, “When public opinion influences leadership, it is an indication that there is involvement of the people.” (Fox Transcript)
The argument that Mr. Bush is making here is that when leaders deliberately pander fear and do warmongering, it is a signal that the country is democratic. Alternatively, deliberate unethical manipulation of public opinion to garner votes is a positive.