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Dictator Dress for Success
by Walt Giersbach

To: Supreme Benevolent Leader of Shining Truth

Dear Benevolent Leader:

Congratulations, Benny, on your successful takeover of your country and defeat of the tribespeople who resisted your enlightened rule. As your public relations advisor, our firm looks forward to many years of material well-being – yours and ours – until such time as you retire gracefully to the C?te d’Azur and your infant son is appointed as your successor.

We are concerned, however, with your image. The National Geographic animal skins are terribly retro and won’t film well on future CNN interviews. Further, the skins tend to harbor fleas. It is our unanimous opinion, arising from several focus groups, that a sartorial change is required.

As they say on Fifth Avenue or the Via Veneto, “You are what you wear.”

You will notice that Hamid Karzai has created an image of power and decisiveness by wearing his tribal flowerpot hat made from a sheep’s buttocks accessorized by a grandmotherly shawl over his shoulders. This bespeaks both a love of gardening, sheep affection and respect for maternal values.

Kim Jong Il, now ushering a third-generation despot into office, has succeeded admirably by wearing oversized Elton John glasses, platform shoes with stacked heels, and a jumpsuit that, presumably, came from an admiring garage mechanic. You don’t have to like Kim, but you never have to ask “Who’s that?” while standing in line at the supermarket.

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe wears a green sash as though he has just won the Mister Africa Contest. Bobby M, as we call him, still looks dashing at 82.

Muammar Kaddafi in Libya cuts a wide sartorial swath with a cute pillbox in the Jackie Kennedy fashion and a swatch of colorful yard goods that might have come from a restaurant tablecloth in Tripoli. Bon appétit, Omar!

Styles change, and we will continue to keep you advised. Egypt’s King Farouk would assuredly still be king if he hadn’t insisted on wearing that red fez, making him look like a bit player in a Humphrey Bogart film.

In the meantime, we’re asking Vera Wang and Manolo Blahnik whip up some image-inducing sketches. We’ve told them to go easy on the floral prints and instead give you the metaphorical power of an M1 Abrams tank bearing down on a marketplace crowd.

Ciao, Benevolent One. We’ll look for some fireworks when Wolf Blitzer sits down with you next week.

Needham and Wantem Public Relations