WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama on Tuesday announced his delegates to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia. And, in what may be a thumb in the eye to Russian President Vladimir Putin over his crackdown on gay rights, two of Obama's delegates are openly gay.
Billie Jean King, the tennis legend, and Caitlin Cahow, an Olympic medalist in women’s ice hockey, are both part of the U.S. delegation. Both are out lesbians.
Another member of the U.S. delegation, figure skating Olympic medalist Brian Boitano, routinely declines to answer questions about his sexuality, saying "everybody's got their own path" to discovering who they are.
Others in the delegation include University of California President Janet Napolitano, the former Homeland Security secretary; Russian Ambassador Michael McFaul; White House Deputy Chief of Staff Rob Nabors; Deputy Secretary of State William Burns, and speed skating Olympic medalists Bonnie Blair and Eric Heiden.
There's a running joke on the left about Obama "playing four-dimensional chess" -- a claim that was actually made by a few of the most faithful in those unvarnished early months of "hope" -- in reality when it comes to political strategy sometimes supporters of a progressive agenda would like to simply see some two-dimensional checkers from this White House. But this, this, is actually the closest to four-dimensional chess that Obama's gotten in a long time.
If you were around then, you remember what a bone-headed move it was for Jimmy Carter to boycott the 1980 Olympics in Moscow (over, ahem, Afghanistan), coming off as such a moralistic Sunday School teacher move when most folks wanted to kick Russian butt on the playing field, as had just happened in ice hockey at Lake Placid. Obama's manuever is a great way to flip the proverbial bird at Putin while letting the athletes compete. I do think some on the political right here at home are going to be tied up in knots over this.
It's also a tribute to how far Obama has come in a short time. In his first two years or so, the president had a fairly lousy record on gay rights, There's more work to be done, of course, but as of today pushing for equality in this arena would have to stand out as a clear bright spot in the up-and-down record of our POTUS 44.