When SOB becomes Presidential SOP

Joe Biden went all Donald Trump on Wednesday when he called Vlad Putin a ‘crazy SOB’. Clearly, SOB here did not mean ‘Siberian Overlord Bossman’, ‘Staggeringly Outstanding and Brilliant’, or spelling out the standard three-lettered English word for ‘crying or weeping with convulsive catching of the breath’. Biden channelled his inner Richard Nixon at a climate-change fundraiser in San Francisco, a city once represented by both peace-loving hippies and gun-toting Harry Callahan of Clint Eastwood-starring Dirty Harry fame – but now known more for being home to Reddit.

Being provided a higher moral ground, the Kremlin took and ran with it. The suddenly polite and terribly scandalised Russians responded by calling Biden’s comment a ‘disgrace’, adding that it ‘debases those who use such vocabulary’. But perhaps Biden was reaching for his Shakespeare, considering the Bard did have the line, ‘…and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch…’, in King Lear. True, this is part of a long litany of abuse by one character of another. Prez Roosevelt is often ascribed as having described (and defended) Nicaraguan dictator Anastasio Somoza as, ‘[he] may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch.’ The current US prez, however, can’t really claim that Putin is ‘our sukinsyn’, the word being the Russian equivalent of the SOP gaali of SOB.