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

House Speaker John Boehner sniffed that he was "insulted" by Putin's op-ed in the Times, adding that he had "real doubts of the motives of the Russians and President Assad in offering this current path."

White House spokesman Jay Carney responded in tit for tat-style: "Unlike Russia, the United States stands up for democratic values and human rights in our own country and around the world." Carney added that the United States is committed to freedom of expression: "That is not a tradition shared in Russia. ... And it is a fact freedom of expression has been on the decrease over the past dozen or so years in Russia."

Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said he had a visceral reaction. "I almost wanted to vomit," said Menendez. "I worry when someone who came up through the KGB tells us what is in our national interests, and what is not. It really raises the question of how serious the Russian proposal is."

In his interview with Hannity, Cruz criticized the president's Syrian policy.

"The administration's policy  consistently has been not to further U.S. national security interests. At the end of the day, what was most problematic with this Syria proposal is that it was -- according to the president -- he wanted the U.S. military to 'defend international norms and make a statement.'" Cruz said neither is the job of the American military.

"Our soldiers and sailors and airmen signed up to defend the United States of America," Cruz said. "And if the president had succeeded at weakening the Assad administration -- look, he's a monster - and if they had weakened him and the result was al Qaeda or al-Nusra taking control or seizing those weapons, that would have undermined U.S. national security rather than enhancing it.

ReaganBerlinWall What would Ronald Reagan do with Syria?