EXCEPTIONALISM…. Towards the end of his remarks last night, President Obama took a few moments to offer a big-picture view of what America is capable of.

“[T]oday’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

“The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

“Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

There’s a phrase for this kind of sentiment. It’s often known as “American exceptionalism.”

As John Dickerson put it, “Thus did the president both answer his conservative critics and rise above them. Yes, he was saying, I do believe in American exceptionalism — and so should any terrorist who would wish America ill.”

I can only assume this won’t satisfy the Kathleen Parkers of the world, who are needlessly literal about Obama and use of the word “exceptionalism,” but the principles here are plainly evident for anyone who cares to hear them.

Our ideas can save democracy... But we need your help! Donate Now!

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.