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President Abandons American Exceptionalism: We’re Killers Just Like Putin

The President of the United States took sides in the Super Bowl, but he seems remarkably ambivalent about picking sides between the country he quarterbacks and one of its greatest rivals on the geopolitical field:

Putin Trump SNL
there’s no place like home… there’s no place like home

In a Fox News interview, Trump, who during the campaign repeatedly praised Putin, again said that he respected the Russian leader and hoped to get along with Moscow, and he seemed to equate the United States with its adversary when pressed by host Bill O’Reilly, who said: “But he’s a killer, though. Putin’s a killer.”

“There are a lot of killers,” Trump said in the interview, which aired Sunday before the Super Bowl. “We’ve got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country’s so innocent?” [Ashley Parker and Mike DeBonis, “Trump’s Continued Defense of Putin Confounds Republicans,” Washington Post, 2017.02.05]

The President’s unwillingness to put America morally First has infected his wingman’s ability to give a straight moral answer:

JOHN DICKERSON: When President Barack Obama was in office, he was criticized consistently by conservatives for not praising American exceptionalism. He never said anything on this par, did he?

VICE-PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: What I can tell you is, there was no moral equivalency in what the president was saying.

He was simply acknowledging that — that he has been throughout his life willing to be critical of government policies and government actions in the United States.

But we recognize, we recognize the extraordinary superiority of the ideals of the American people and the implementation of those ideals. But…


DICKERSON: Do you think America is morally superior to Russia?

PENCE: What — what you have in this new president is someone who is willing to, and is, in fact, engaging the world, including Russia, and saying, where can we find common interests that will advance the security of the American people, the peace and prosperity of the world?

And he is determined to come at that in a new and renewed way.

DICKERSON: But America morally superior to Russia, yes or no?

PENCE: I believe that the ideals that America has stood for throughout our history represent the highest ideals of humankind.


PENCE: I was actually at — I was at Independence Hall yesterday. And I stood in the very room where the Constitution of the United States was crafted, the very building where the Declaration of Independence was held forth.

Every American, including our president, represents that we uphold the highest ideals of the world.


DICKERSON: Shouldn’t we be able to just say yes to that question, though?

PENCE: I think it is without question, John.

DICKERSON: That America is morally superior to Russia?

PENCE: That American ideals are — are superior to countries all across the world. But, again, what the president is determined to do, as someone who has spent a lifetime looking for deals, is to see if we can have a new relationship with Russia and other countries that advances the interests of America first and the peace and security of the world [John Dickerson interviewing Vice-President Mike Pence, Face the Nation, 2017.02.05].

We shouldn’t be surprised. Donald Trump explicitly rejected American exceptionalism in April 2015:

n late April 2015, a month before Trump officially announced his candidacy, he spoke at an event called “Celebrating the American Dream” that was hosted in Houston by the Texas Patriots PAC, a local tea party outfit. The mogul sat in an oversized leather chair and fielded questions from Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale, a prominent local businessman. About an hour into the program, McIngvale posed Trump this query: “Define American exceptionalism. Does American exceptionalism still exist? And what do we do to grow American exceptionalism?”

Trump didn’t hesitate to shoot down the premise of the question, saying he didn’t “like the term.” He questioned whether the United States was “more exceptional” and “more outstanding” than other nations. He also said that those who refer to American exceptionalism were “insulting the world” and offending people in other countries, such as Russia, China, Germany, and Japan. It is “not a nice term,” he said, maintaining it was wrong to equate patriotism with a belief in American exceptionalism. He derided politicians who use the phrase.

Explaining his negative reaction to this idea long cherished and promoted by Republicans and Democrats, Trump said, “perhaps that’s because I don’t have a very big ego, and I don’t need terms like that.” Audience members laughed in response. Trump added, “I want to take everything back from the world that we’ve given them. We’ve given them so much.” He suggested that were he to become president, he would make the United States exceptional.

…When Trump finished those remarks, the crowd was largely silent, and McIngvale moved on to another subject. Yet Trump had just trampled one of the mainstay tenets of GOP ideology—and undercut a line of attack often used by Republicans [David Corn, “Donald Trump Says He Doesn’t Believe in ‘American Exceptionalism’,” Mother Jones, 2016.06.07].

I don’t understand what the President’s position is on Russia,” says Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse.

Really, Senator Sasse? It’s that hard to figure out? I remember when conservatives could figure out much more quickly how to interpret and lambaste as unpatriotic a Demcoratic candidate’s wife for saying, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I’m really proud of my country.” Now the President of the United States can say the greatest country in the world is another bunch of murdering thugs just like Putin’s Russia, and Republicans dispute the statement but don’t challenge their erring President directly before turning to the big football game.

Go, Team, right, Republicans?


  1. jerry 2017-02-05

    His supporters have implied that all along the way. You can pretty much read that on this blog site that Trump is only doing what he said he was going to do, Trump sees the USA as a failed republic so he is going to drain the swamp. Trump knows how to make money from a failed system because that is what he does. No, he has always been clear that we are just like Russia. In his and his new pal’s mind, we are both service oriented states that do not manufacture anything other than machines of war. When we give up Poland to Putin, it may convince his base that they just might have made a big mistake, but only after they realize there still are no jobs for them to do.

    To show how little he regards the USA, he is lifting sanctions on Russia while Russian gunners are now shelling positions in the Ukraine as I write. Trump and Pence see the USA as number 2 to Russia being number 1. You do not have to believe me, he, himself just said it.

  2. Rorschach 2017-02-05

    Ben Sasse is Nebraska’s Senator, not congressman. The GOP Party has a much lower bar for its own than it has for Democrats. Sen. Sasse is actually one of Trump’s strongest GOP Party critics, but that’s not saying much. Trump keeps them off balance. At some point the opposition within the GOP Party to Trump will gather speed like a snowball rolling downhill.

  3. Jenny 2017-02-06

    Lately, SNL has really rocked with Alec Baldwin’s Trump’s impersonation and Kate McKinnon playing Kellyanne Conway. The dude that plays Putin is hilarious also! I encourage anyone that wants a good laugh to watch their skits! Darn funny entertainment!

    The republicans just make it too easy for them!

  4. o 2017-02-06

    Thus showing what is truly exceptional about America is its hypocrisy on partisan political outrage. A Democratic president who equivocated the US and Russia as both being equal killers, or ever saying out loud that America is not exceptional would be dragged through the mud of public opinion by the GOP. Where is the FOX outrage engine on this one – it was in a FOX interview. They should be at deacon 1 and launching 24-7 airtime to this national affront!

  5. Richard Schriever 2017-02-06

    FYI – The term “American Exceptionalism” was coined to describe the US as having a UNIQUE (not necessarily better) form of governance back in the 18th century. That original exceptionalism has LONG SINCE been outdated – as more and more countries have adopted a democratic (vs. autocratic or aristocratic) form of self-rule, which ois what was – WAS – exceptional about the US back in the 18th.

  6. Jake 2017-02-06

    Thanks, Schriever for that. You are “RIGHT ON’!!!!

  7. moses6 2017-02-06

    MR.Bankrupt will show you how to make money.Can we please get that casino built on I 90 .The golden boy from the Governors office from Dell Rapids will tell you if you have been hood winked .I wonf=der why they dont tear that sign down after what he did to the voter.

  8. Bob Newland 2017-02-06

    Trump was more or less accurate when he questioned America’s innocence. It’s unclear whether he actually knows anything about America’s complicity in a wide range of horrors. It doesn’t, however, excuse Putin’s reign of terror.

  9. mike from iowa 2017-02-07

    Today Drumpf offered to help a Texas Sheriff destroy the career of a wingnut Texas Senator who is not in favor of forfeiture laws.

    It took Obama 4 months to hit the golf links after he was inaugurated. Drumpf complained endlessly about Obama’s golfing. It took Drumpf 2 weeks to vacation playing golf. Drumpf also said he never vacations. What a lying liar.

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