Brendan Nelson had a meeting with the Dalai Lama yesterday. Hopefully the Dalai Lama invited the Leader of the Opposition to his meditation lectures. Brendan seems to have a bit of a problem keeping his emotions in check, so maybe Buddhism has something to offer him in the task of keeping Emo Man under control.

Bob Brown is meeting the Dalai Lama. That goes without saying. Brown is a shameless Lama groupie. Bob has probably booked out an entire meditation lecture.

Stephen Smith is meeting the Dalai Lama. Smith doesn’t need any lectures. He’s so calm he looks like he’s permanently meditating. Perhaps about what ties to wear, because he always picks exactly the right combination. Suave. Dapper, even.

John Howard met the Dalai Lama last year. So did then Opposition leader Kevin Rudd, still awaiting destiny’s call to the Prime Ministership.

Even the butchers of Beijing have said they’ll meet with the Dalai Lama. Probably to tell him that he should be thankful the Chinese bothered to rescue his sh-tty little dump of a country from medieval tyranny and that if he’s not careful the Olympic Torch might accidentally set quite a few things on fire while it’s making its way through Tibet. Still, at least they’re doing him the courtesy of telling him in person, if only so people will show up at their Olympics.

Kevin Rudd is — keen-eyed readers will spot the difference — not meeting the Dalai Lama. Diary clash, see. Funny thing about the Dalai Lama’s travels — he always seems to run into these diary clashes when wanting to meet politicians.

As Andrew Robb pointed out yesterday, the Dalai Lama and the Prime Minister will actually be in Australia at the same time, so technically they could meet. So what is Rudd playing at?

Especially when dispatching Julia Gillard to New Zealand and Wayne Swan to Europe and China looks a lot like turning out the lights and hiding when an unwelcome visitor drops by. Except, they’ve left Chris Evans around to perform the solemn duty of meeting His Holiness, rather in the manner of a child explaining to Jehovah’s Witnesses through the flyscreen door that mum and dad aren’t home right now.

Maybe Rudd, having dispelled concerns about his Sinophilia by going telling the Chinese in Beijing itself that it has a human rights problem, and that they should talk to the Dalai Lama, feels it necessary to subtly balance that by regretfully missing the chance to catch up with Tibet’s exiled leader. Maybe meeting the Dalai Lama is more symbolism, and Rudd has finally got tired of that sort of stuff. Or maybe Rudd thought he’d be exhausted after getting back from Indonesia and the last thing he wanted to do was meet yet another bloody foreign leader, one he only met a year ago anyway.

Don’t know. Strange.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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