In comments made by Donald Trump in 2013 and flagged by Buzzfeed yesterday, the Republican presidential nominee launched a full-throated defense of Vladimir Putin.
The New York Times published an op-ed column written by Putin in which he criticized President Obama for using the term "American exceptionalism." Not everyone took kindly to Putin's column, but Donald Trump certainly did.
“You think of the term as being fine, but all of sudden you say, what if you’re in Germany or Japan or any one of 100 different countries? You’re not going to like that term,” said Trump. “It’s very insulting and Putin really put it to him about that.” [...]
“Other nations and other countries don’t want hear about American exceptionalism. They’re insulted by it. And that’s what Putin was saying.”
As I've said before, I'm not going to defend "American exceptionalism" to the extent that Republicans generally define it as a unique moral righteousness, but that's not the point.
For the past eight years, Republicans have repeatedly said President Obama does not believe in American leadership. They say he doesn't believe in American values. They say he leads from behind. They say he has weakened America's moral standing in the world.
None of that is true, but in any event the Republican party has now nominated a man who openly questions the idea of American exceptionalism on behalf of his good ol' buddy pal Uncle Putin.
Obviously I can't speak for the president, but I can say that he does not define American exceptionalism as some kind of shield that protects the nation from all criticism. The president has defined American exceptionalism through his own life experience; the experience of being raised by a single mother, attending Harvard Law School, organizing on the south side of Chicago, and eventually becoming the president of the United States.
The president defines his own life experience and the opportunities he had as an example of American exceptionalism. That I can believe in and that is what we're defending, isn't it? We're defending it from Trump and the Republican party so that others may have that opportunity.