NewsBusters attacked Pelosi as "more of a shallow politician than a devout Christian" for calling the Dalai Lama "His Holiness" -- as Bush has repeatedly done

››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

Tim Graham, the Media Research Center's director of media analysis, wrote in a NewsBusters blog post that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi "show[ed] she's more of a shallow politician than a devout Christian" for calling the Dalai Lama "His Holiness." However, Graham did not mention another prominent politician who has referred to the Dalai Lama as "His Holiness": President George W. Bush.

In an April 25 entry on the blog NewsBusters, Tim Graham, director of media analysis for the Media Research Center, wrote that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) "presents herself as a 'devout Catholic,' and was kissing the ring of Pope Benedict in Washington last week, no doubt honoring him as 'Your Holiness.' But in the April 21 Time, she recommends the Dalai Lama to be in Time's Top 100 (most influential people, and he's also 'His Holiness.' How many gods does Pelosi worship? Devout Catholics worship one God. Tibetan Buddhists worship a multiplicity of gods." In his post, Graham added that "His Holiness" is "certainly the title that the Dalai Lama uses, but that doesn't mean everyone in public life does ... At best, Pelosi's promiscuous definitions of holiness just show she's more of a shallow politician than a devout Christian." However, while Graham attacked Pelosi for "promiscuous definitions of holiness," he ignored another prominent politician who referred to the Dalai Lama as "His Holiness": President George W. Bush.

At an October 17, 2007, ceremony, Bush awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the Dalai Lama. In his remarks, Bush referred to the Dalai Lama as "Your Holiness" once, and "His Holiness" three times:

BUSH: Madam Speaker; and Senator Byrd; Mr. Leader; members of the congressional delegation, particularly Senators Feinstein and Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen; Senator Thomas -- God rest his soul -- distinguished guests, particularly our friend, Elie Wiesel; and Your Holiness.

[...]

Nearly two decades have passed since the Dalai Lama was welcomed to the White House for the very first time. Members of both of our political parties and world leaders have seen His Holiness as a man of faith and sincerity and peace. He's won the respect and affection of the American people -- and America has earned his respect and affection, as well.

As a nation, we are humbled to know that a young boy in Tibet -- as a young boy in Tibet, His Holiness kept a model of the Statue of Liberty at his bedside.

[...]

I congratulate His Holiness on this recognition. I'm so honored to be here with you, sir. Laura and I join all Americans in offering the people of Tibet our fervent prayer that they may find days of prosperity and peace.

Press secretaries in the Bush White House have also frequently referred to the Dalai Lama as "His Holiness." For example:

  • A May 23, 2001, press release from then-White House press secretary Ari Fleischer stated: "His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, met at the White House this morning with the President and the National Security Advisor to discuss Tibet."
  • A September 10, 2003, press release from then-White House press secretary Scott McClellan stated: "His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, met at the White House this morning with the President. This was their second meeting to discuss Tibet."
  • During a November 9, 2005, press briefing, McClellan stated: "[T]he President and Mrs. Bush look forward to welcoming His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, back to the White House. They will be meeting with His Holiness over in the Residence. This is the third meeting that the President has had here at the White House with His Holiness."

Graham's April 25 NewsBusters post in its entirety:

Despite her Bible mangling, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi presents herself as a "devout Catholic," and was kissing the ring of Pope Benedict in Washington last week, no doubt honoring him as "Your Holiness." But in the April 21 Time, she recommends the Dalai Lama to be in Time's Top 100 (most influential people, and he's also "His Holiness." How many gods does Pelosi worship? Devout Catholics worship one God. Tibetan Buddhists worship a multiplicity of gods. Pelosi wrote:

His Holiness the Dalai Lama describes himself as a "simple monk," but he represents so much more to so many. He is a source of spiritual refuge, and has used his position to promote wisdom, compassion and nonviolence as a solution to world conflicts.

That's certainly the title that the Dalai Lama uses, but that doesn't mean everyone in public life does. In fact, Dan Rather also recommended the Tibetan monk for the Person of the Year honors in the December 17, 2007 issue without the honorific:

The environment is the defining issue of our time. But if the list must be confined to a one-person nomination, the Dalai Lama -- for his contributions to peace, spirituality, philosophy, and science, as well as his nonviolent efforts on behalf of freedom from oppression for his people.

Is Pelosi's defense going to be she's just more spiritual than Dan Rather? At best, Pelosi's promiscuous definitions of holiness just show she's more of a shallow politician than a devout Christian.

[Correction appended: I originally wrote Rather recommended the Dalai Lama for the Time 100, not Person of the Year.] [emphasis in original]

We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.