McCain’s Dalaiance


Dalai Lama.jpgJohn McCain’s meeting with the Dalai Lama this afternoon in Aspen poses some interesting political questions.
1. After the March disturbances in Tibet, McCain called on President Bush to boycott the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. Bush declined to do so. The Dalai Lama himself has rejected the idea of a wholesale boycott of the Olympics, but of leaders’ boycotting the opening ceremonies said, “That’s up to them.” Will McCain stick to his guns?
2. If he does, what of the presence of the Rescuer of the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympics, would-be McCain running mate Mitt Romney?
3. AHN leads its story with the assertion that McCain will show his support “for a free Tibet.” But what does “free” mean to him? The Dalai Lama insists that he only favors autonomy. Other Tibetans–including monks allegedly obedient to the Dalai Lama inside Tibet–want independence. What position will McCain stake out, if any?
Update: The initial report suggests that McCain got into none of the above, contenting himself simply with calling on the Chinese to release Tibetans taken prisoner during the uprising. That’s called supporting a free Tibet in a very limited sense. Very.
Later Update: Okay, McCain’s for autonomy. WaPo has this video clip, in which, reading from a prepared text, he urges the Chinese to engage in talks with the Dalai Lama’s representatives “to address the just grievances of the Tibetan people,” and emphasized that the suppression of rights in China “does, will, and must concern us.” No mention of boycotts. The Dalai Lama, with a bit of a twinkle, did refer to his “old friend,” and it was certainly quite the tableau of two old guys holding hands.