'It Was American Exceptionalism That Stood Up to the Soviet Union and Freed Hundreds of Millions'

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) slammed Russian President Vladimir Putin's op-ed in the New York Times on Thursday. Putin, using President Obama's own complaints about the United States against him, lectured Americans about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and decried American exceptionalism. "It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation," Putin wrote. "There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too."

Speaking to Sean Hannity on Fox News Thursday, Cruz pulled no punches in defending American exceptionalism and reminding viewers about the brutal Soviet regime:

[2:00] It was truly astonishing and I think the final paragraph was the most striking where he castigated the president and Americans for believing in American exceptionalism and I actually think he was right.

Autocrats have reason to fear when Americans focus on our principles and focus on exceptionalism because it's been American exceptionalism that stood up to the Nazis and stopped the murder from the Nazis and it was American exceptionalism that stood up to the Soviet Union and freed hundreds of millions from behind the Iron Curtain. So Putin is right to be concerned about American exceptionalism.

Cruz said Putin and the Russians have been bad actors throughout the Syrian proceedings and he favors President Reagan's approach of "trust but verify," saying he is skeptical of Putin's motives. "It is a very dangerous time and one of the principles that has been true from time immemorial is that bullies and  tyrants don't respect weakness."

Other responses to Putin's op-ed were more tepid and cautious.