The political satirist Stephen Colbert wants to be the next Dalai Lama.
On the Wednesday episode of his award winning program, The Colbert Report, Colbert did a segment on the Dalai Lama’s recent announcement that he should be the last Dalai Lama. Speaking to the German newspaper, Welt am Sonntag, Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama, said: “We had a Dalai Lama for almost five centuries. The 14th Dalai Lama now is very popular. Let us then finish with a popular Dalai Lama.”
It wasn’t an entirely new position for the Tibetan religious leader. However, this particular interview was quickly picked up by international newswires.
The Dalai Lama gave a few reasons for why he feels like he should be the last Dalai Lama. According to Reuters, one of these is his fear that “China will use the issue of the Dalai Lama’s religious succession to split Tibetan Buddhism, with one new Dalai Lama named by exiles and one by China after his death.”
The Chinese Communist Party, which controls Tibet, immediately chided the Dalai Lama for his comments. A spokesperson for the Foreign Ministry told reporters this week that China has a “set religious procedure[s] and historic custom[s]” for handling the reincarnation of living Tibetans, including the Dalai Lama. And that religious procedure and historic custom is, “The title of Dalai Lama is conferred by the [Chinese] central government, which has hundreds of years of history.”
After noting this dispute between the Dalai Lama and China, Colbert announced that “there is only one solution…. I will be the 15th Dalai Lama.”
Colbert said he was the perfect man for the job because he would be a “win-win” choice for both Tibetans and the Chinese government. To Beijing, he promised, “I’m willing to play ball here, okay. I believe Tibet has always been part of China, ever since you guys proved it was with all those guns.”
Meanwhile, when addressing Tibetans, Colbert acknowledged that he doesn’t have some of the achievements of the current Dalai Lama, such as a half century of traveling the world discussing a democratic Tibet and “spiritual enlightenment,” as well as a Noble Peace Prize. “But on the other hand,” Colbert noted, “I have achieved… nothing. Doesn’t that really make me the better Buddhist?”
Watch the video below:
One obstacle Colbert might encounter is that the person chosen to be the Dalai Lama is said to be the reincarnation of the previous Dalai Lama.
Nonetheless, Colbert does have some experience running for higher office. During the 2008 U.S. presidential election, Colbert tried to run in the South Carolina primary for the Democratic Party. South Carolina’s Democratic leaders, however, ultimately refused to place his name on the ballot.
During the 2012 U.S. presidential election, a public opinion poll found that Colbert had the support of 5 percent of likely Republican primary voters in South Carolina– putting him ahead of some of the actual candidates. Shortly after the poll’s release, Colbert announced he was forming an exploratory committee for a potential run to be “president of the United States of South Carolina.” He ultimately decided against running, which was just as well since the position doesn’t actually exist.