"Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please." (Mark Twain)
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
As part of Washington's image machinery for more than two decades, Edward von Kloberg III did his best to sanitize some of the late 20th century's most notorious dictators as they sought favors and approval from U.S. officials.
A legend of sorts in public relations circles, he counted as clients Saddam Hussein of Iraq; Samuel K. Doe of Liberia; Nicolae Ceausescu of Romania; the military regime in Burma; Guatemalan businessmen who supported the country's murderous, military-backed government; Mobutu Sese Seko of the former Zaire; and, in a figurative coup of his own, the man who overthrew Mobutu and renamed the country the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Von Kloberg embraced the slogan "shame is for sissies" as well as an unabashedly Edwardian style of living. He arrived at balls and galas wearing black capes, and he traveled with steamer trunks. He added the "von" to his name because he thought it sounded distinguished.
In a life full of flamboyance, his end followed form: The District resident, 63, leapt to his death Sunday from "a castle in Rome," a State Department spokeswoman said. Von Kloberg's sister said a lengthy note was found on the body, and U.S. Embassy officials in Rome told her that he committed suicide.
Von Kloberg is said to have thrown 3,500 dinner parties. He had two favorite black capes (one with a red lining, and one with a print design incorporating images of doves). He liked to wear foreign medals, including Zaire's Order of the Leopard. Not bad for a guy who graduated from Rider College in Lawrenceville, N.J. after flunking out of Princeton.
He was also the victim of one of the most creative (if vicious) practical jokes I have ever heard of:
By far the most outrageous and lasting public impression of von Kloberg came from a notorious "sting" operation by Spy magazine. For a story the satirical journal titled "Washington's Most Shameless Lobbyist," a staff writer posed as a Nazi sympathizer whose causes included halting immigration to the "fatherland" and calling for the German annexation of Poland.
According to the magazine, von Kloberg expressed sympathy for the fake client -- and her $1 million offer. And then he was drubbed in print. Shortly afterward, he showed up at the opening of Spy's Washington office with a first-aid kit and sported a trench helmet, "so I can take the flak," he announced.
Far from being offended by the prank, he seems to have revelled in it - "You'd be surprised how much business I got as a result."
Read the whole article, and recall once again that there is a world out there completely alien to the likes of you and me.
Von = From
Klo is short for Wasser Kloset or Water closet
berg is a mountain.
Seems consistent to me...