President Obama has been studiously learning Russian to write a rebuttal to Vladimir Putin’s scathing New York Times op-ed piece, says a source inside the White House.
In the open letter printed Wednesday, the Russian president criticizes Obama’s position on Syria, as well as US foreign policy.
Obama’s response to Putin will be printed in the Russian daily Izvestia sometime next week, as long as Obama “can improve his Russian language fluency so as not to sound like a drunk two-year-old,” says the source.
The source also stated that the while Obama is steadfast in his decision to write the letter in Russian, he has encountered more difficulties with the language that he had expected.
“President Obama knew that Russian was a Slavic language, and he didn’t expect to breeze through it in a day. Maybe two or three, but certainly not one. After reading a grammar primer and watching some Moscow-based sitcoms, he can now converse in Russian.”
“Writing in Russian is another story,” the source added. “[Obama] is getting rather frustrated by the cyrillic letters. Truth be told, some of them are pretty freakish, like the backwards ‘R’ and the two letters that look like the pi symbol.”
According to the source, Obama spent most of Thursday angrily devoted to writing the letter. As of Friday morning, he had only composed “four good lines.”
The source said the president plans to spend the weekend composing a paragraph in which he will refute Putin’s attack on idea of American exceptionalism.
“[President Obama] knows he ain’t no Tolstoy, and he’s fine with that,” the source said. “The most important thing for the president is to give a defense of his policies, and to convince Russians that American presidents are superhuman mind-melders capable of casually picking up a nightmarishly difficult language in a few days, rather than the decade of study it would take a normal mortal.”
Click here to see a draft of Obama’s letter, along with an English translation.