Obama sticks it to Putin - refuses to attend Sochi Olympics

Not only is President Obama snubbing Vladimir Putin by staying home, there will be no high level government official attending the Sochi Olympics at all.

And to really rub Putin's nose in it, Obama named tennis great and gay activist Billie Jean King to the delegation representing the US.

USA Today:

The White House delivered a strong message of opposition to Russia's anti-gay laws Tuesday with the announcement of its delegation to the opening ceremony of the Sochi Olympics.

The White House delegation will include an openly gay athlete: tennis great Billie Jean King.

It will not include the president, first lady or the vice president, all who headed the previous four Olympic delegations, or a cabinet secretary, only a former one. This marks the first Olympics since the 2000 Sydney Summer Games that a U.S. president, vice president, first lady or former president has not been a member of the delegation for the opening ceremony, which will be Feb. 7 in Sochi.

A statement from the White House said President Obama's schedule doesn't allow him to travel to Sochi. "President Obama is extremely proud of our U.S. athletes and looks forward to cheering them on from Washington," the statement said. "He knows they will showcase to the world the best of America -- diversity, determination and teamwork."

The delegation "represents the diversity that is the United States," the statement said.

Gay rights groups viewed the announcement as a strong statement. Andre Banks, the executive director of All Out, said, "It's hard to look at this delegation without seeing it as a criticism of Putin's anti-gay laws. ... What it's doing is showing the true power of the Olympics, the ability to move people, to change people's minds and open them up to new ways of thinking. The delegation is shining a light on the values of the Olympics."

Also absent will be French President Francois Hollande and German President Joachim Gauck, who announced earlier that they will not attend the Sochi Games.

In London in 2012, Michelle Obama led a delegation that included Olympians Dominique Dawes, Brandi Chastain and others. In 2008, President Bush attended the Beijing Olympics. In 2002, President Bush also attended the opening ceremony for the Salt Lake City Winter Games, as is the custom for a head of state to attend a home Olympics. And former president George H.W. Bush was part of delegations to the 2008 and 2004 Games.

Also part of the US delegation attending the closing ceremonies will be openly gay Olympic ice hockey champion Caitlin Cahow.

Pat Buchanan asked in an column at Towh Hall yesterday, "Is Putin one of Us?" If he means a homophobic bigot with authoritarian tendencies, yes - I'm sure Mr. Buchanan has found a soulmate.

For the rest of us, we can enjoy Mr. Putin's discomfort.