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John Colson: Hit and Run

Jeez, we got the Dalai Lama and John McCain in one week, how lucky can one town be?

Of course in the different newsrooms about town, the overlapping visitations were exciting, but also they were a chance for massive confusion and frustration.

For one thing, we had to deal with the combined paranoia of the U.S. Secret Service and the State Department’s diplomatic security apparatus. If ever there were two agencies more dedicated to the proposition that everyone outside their own circle is “The Enemy,” I sure don’t know what they are (and I don’t want to know).



I’d like to tell you all about the intricacies and nervous-making fun of dealing with such agencies. But as the saying goes: If I told you, I’d have to kill you. Or one of their agents would, depending on who got to whom, and when.

It was amusing to hear, on Thursday, that John McCain had to cancel a planned trip to the Texas coast of the Gulf of Mexico, which I think was supposed to be a photo opp of a Senator and the presidential candidate touring off-shore oil rigs or something like that.



But the reason the trip was canceled was out of concern over the potential mayhem from Hurricane Dolly, which was dumping hellish amounts of rain all over the region and generally messing up people’s vacation plans.

Despite the cancellation, McCain kept his dates in Denver and Aspen, where he hoped to scoop up easily as much money as was being funneled to the storm-ravaged Gulf. It was a fundraising thing, you see.

And at the same time, McCain capitalized on the visit of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to seize a grip-and-grin moment with an international figure who has at least as much victim-cred as McCain himself.

I mean, McCain was held for five years in a POW camp by the North Vietnamese, and the Dalai Lama has been a prisoner in the velvet cell of exile since the 1950s, when China invaded his country on a mission of “liberating” the exploited Tibetan masses. So they’ve both been victimized by oppressive, totalitarian regimes, right?

Of course, and not to put too fine a point on it, McCain was tortured and browbeaten by his hosts, while His Holiness has become the religious equivalent of a pampered international rock star, so perhaps the comparison doesn’t hold all that much water. But, hey, a photo opp is a photo opp, any publicity is good publicity, and we all have our crosses to bear.

Or something like that.

The chuckle factor that first got me going, though, was the juxtaposition of the names involved in McCain’s serpentine travel plans.

He was warned off from the Texas trip by the ravages of a hurricane named Dolly, which must have pissed him off because he undoubtedly was hoping to get himself back on the front page and the television screens of the voting public long enough to steal a little thunder from the world-trotting Barack Obama.

But, detoured from that stunt, he felt safe enough to tiptoe into Aspen, a hotbed of supposed political liberality and left-leaning moneybags, to pick up a little badly-needed cash and meet with an international exile of the political kind, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

So, we have a farewell to one Dolly, but a hello to another Dalai (which, in case you were unaware, is pronounced much like the first “dolly,” at least in American lingo) along the way.

In any event, as I write this for a Friday deadline, we are told that McCain is due into Aspen on the afternoon plane, the Dalai Lama is already here and eagerly anticipating his encounter with the man from Arizona, and the press will most likely be limited to extremely short exposures to either or both.

If someone were writing this as a television reality show, what would the title be? How about, “You say Dolly, I say Dalai, let’s call the whole thing off.”

jcolson@aspentimes.com


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