At first, members of the Bush administration assumed the Great Decider was dressing up as the Dalai Lama for Halloween.
“President Bush’s favorite holiday is still days away—he loves anything to do with dressing up—but he is an impatient guy and all of us just thought he couldn’t wait to slip into the Dalai Lama’s trademark flowing maroon-and-saffron robes and pretend to be the revered spiritual leader,” said Whitehouse spokesperson and icy sexpot Dana Perino.
It was apparent to those attending the presentation of the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama that Bush was quite taken with His Holiness’ colorful attire. Everyone noticed how the fidgety leader of the free world kept glancing over at the robe of the affable exiled Buddhist, and a murmur went up among the audience when Bush reached over and fingered the fancy fabric.
After the ceremony, the president took off his suit jacket and proposed that he and the Tibetan leader swap outfits.
“It’s an American tradition, Mr. Lama,” said Mr. Bush. “Down in Texas, we swap jerseys after a big game.” The always-unruffled guru seemed temporarily nonplussed, but quickly regained his equanimity when a Bush aide rushed over and informed the Tibetan god-king that the president, who protested otherwise, was just joking.
The dress-up president was, however, apparently able to obtain the name of the Dalai Lama’s tailor, for the next day he appeared at a press briefing in full Tibetan regalia. He also had shaved his head and was wearing the tinted spectacles favored by the Tibetan holy man.
“Don’t be confused by my new get-up,” said the president, adding that henceforth, he should be addressed at the Dalai Bushie. “I’m still the Great Decider, and I’ve decided to stay the course in Iraq and continue with my catastrophic policy, which I’m proud to claim as the worst presidential blunder in American history.
“After talking things over with Mr. Lama yesterday and learning about the Four Noble Truths preached by Mr. Buddha way back there a long time ago—hundreds and hundreds of years ago they tell me—after chewing the fat with my new friend Mr. Lama, who is, by the way, a good man, even a gooder man than Mr. Putin who I used to think was a good man, I have been convinced more than ever that I’m doing the right thing over there in Iraq.
“What convinced me was the First Noble Truth, which that Gotama guy called the Truth of Suffering. Life is suffering, folks, and if them Iraqis is suffering, well, that’s life, as old Blue Eyes used to say. Now, the Second Noble Truth is the Truth of the Cause of Suffering, which is craving or desire, depending on how you translate the Pali Canon.
“Now, to reach Nibbana, or as they say in Sanskrit, Nirvana, them Iraqis just have to give up their craving for stuff, like the craving for electricity, water, let alone the craving for peace, or the craving to stay alive for a while. And us Americans got to give up craving for getting out of there, you know, just let it go, folks.
“As for the Fourth Noble Truth, which is the Eightfold Path, I have a hard time remembering more than a couple of them. Mr. Lama was trying to explain them to me last night over pretzels and beer, and I felt pretty good about something he called ‘right meditation.’ Most people have a hard time with that, according to Mr. Lama, because they think they have to get rid of all their thoughts, but Mr. Lama said your monkey mind will always have thoughts, swinging from branch to branch, and the secret was to just let your thoughts come and go, just kind of let them drift like clouds over the mountain tops, or like monkeys on the jungly tendrils.
“I jumped right in and told Mr. Lama that I was a real good meditator because I’d never had a thought in my whole damned life! And when he started talking about Emptiness I knew exactly what he was driving at. My Buddha nature is totally empty! I been a Buddhist all my life without ever knowing.”
Contacted over the weekend at his simple hut in Dharamsala, the Dalai Lama interrupted his thrice-daily meditation to say that he is reconsidering his long-held belief that he is connected to every human being on earth.
“I’m not One with your pinhead president,” said his holiness.
D.P. Sorensen writes satire for City Weekly.