The New York Times reports about Ukranian Olympic athletes:

Bogdana Matsotska, an Alpine skier, and her father and coach, Oleg Matsotskyy, announced on Matsotskyy’s Facebook page that they would be leaving Sochi before Matsotska had finished competing. Matsotska, 24, will not take part in the women’s slalom, which is scheduled for Friday. . . . In explaining the decision to leave early, Matsotskyy wrote in his Facebook post that “as a protest against lawless actions made towards protesters, the lack of responsibility from the side of the president and his lackey government, we refuse further performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games.”

The Ukrainians properly identified the appalling hypocrisy that the Games now represent, declaring that the violence in Ukraine, prompted by Russian bullying, is “in violation of the old principle of the Games — the Olympic Truce.” Indeed, the modern Games are an affront to the Olympic ideal. Assistant secretary of State Victoria Nuland’s expletive directed at the clueless European Union is even more applicable to the International Olympic Committee, the folks who wouldn’t pause for a moment of silence in the Summer Olympics to honor the memory of the Israeli athletes slaughtered 40 years earlier at the 1972 Munich Olympics and now have not a care in the world about spouting platitudes about sports in the land of Vladimir Putin.

U.S. elite opinion was only stirred when the Russians’ repression became a matter of gay rights. But that is a fraction of the problem which includes international aggression (Putin’s forces still occupy 20 percent of Georgia), brutality (e.g. Sergei Magnitsky), the expulsion of nongovernmental organizations, violation of basic human liberties and support for the genocidal regime of Bashar al-Assad.

It is a sad statement that the athletes, sponsors, tourists and TV cameras remain Sochi-fixated, as if the most important thing is to stick to the competition. Hold up the Olympic ideals? It’s too late for that.

But then, political leaders in the West are very late to the scene as well. For five years the administration has been saying ludicrous things about Putin, as if they had no clue with whom they were dealing. Recall these delirious comments about Russia over the years:

“Well, we’re going to hit the reset button and start fresh because clearly the Obama administration believes that there are a number of important areas to discuss with the Russians. . . . We’re going to believe in arms control and nonproliferation as a core function of our foreign policy. As you remember . . . there was a great deal of confusion and infighting and ideological position-taking regarding arms control and nonproliferation in the last administration. We’re committed to both, and we are going to be working with the Russians on the start treaty and the nonproliferation treaty and other matters of great concern to us.” That was Hillary Clinton in 2009.

Fast forward to September 2010: “With Russia, when we took office, it was amid cooling to cold relations and a return to Cold War suspicion. But anyone serious about solving global problems such as nuclear proliferation knew that without Russia and the United States working together, little would be achieved. So we refocused the relationship. We offered a relationship based on not only mutual respect, but also mutual responsibility.” Hillary Clinton, once again.

In March 2012 after the rigged presidential election: “The election had a clear winner, and we are ready to work with President-elect Putin as he is sworn in and assumes the responsibilities of the presidency. . . .  We continue to believe that Russia should join the international community and play a positive role in trying to end the bloodshed and help create the conditions for a peaceful democratic transition [in Syria].” You guessed it: Hillary Clinton.

In December 2012: “We have been trying hard to work with Russia to try to stop the bloodshed in Syria and start a political transition for a post-Assad Syrian future.” Yeah, that also was Hillary Clinton.

Unlike Jimmy Carter, who at least woke up with the invasion of Afghanistan, Hillary Clinton never quite clued into what Putin was up to — or if she did, she kept it largely to herself. She and Obama were played for fools, and John Kerry picked up where Clinton left off. Is it any wonder we’ve lost influence over events and the moral credibility to lead? If they gave out medals for naivete, they’d be in a three-way tie for gold.