A decade ago the current boss of Russia wrote that “America is not exceptional.” What he did later shows what he really meant. Many tyrants in human history have claimed global influence, but none of them could inspire the rest of the world to strive for the best in human nature. That’s why today’s Russian tyrants, like all tyrants, are fundamentally weak and their regime will crumble over time. When any tyrant hates America and denies its exceptional role in the struggle for freedom, he recognizes his own inevitable defeat. To Russian tyranny I say the world needs more, not less, American exceptionalism.
And it really makes him look like a great leader, frankly. And when he criticizes the president [Obama] for using the term "American exceptionalism," if you're in Russia, you don't want to hear that America is exceptional. And if you're in many other countries, whether it's Germany or other places, you don't want to hear about American exceptionalism because you think you're exceptional. So I can see that being very insulting to the world.
And that's basically what Putin was saying is that, you know, you use a term like "American exceptionalism," and frankly, the way our country is being treated right now by Russia and Syria and lots of other places and with all the mistakes we've made over the years, like Iraq and so many others, it's sort of a hard term to use.
But other nations and other countries don't want hear about American exceptionalism. They're insulted by it. And that's what Putin was saying.