"He makes us always feel good," said Sen. Charles Percy, the Illinois Republican, raising his champagne glass last night in tribute to Democrat Clement Zablocki of Wisconsin, a signal for others to follow suit. "He exemplifies many of the qualities we have seen in Pope John Paul II, who has charmed the world."
That ecclesiastical accolade for the Polish-American chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee nearly brought down the house with applause at the Embassy of Morocco where Ambassador and Mrs. Ali Bengelloun entertained in Zablocki's honor.
"Maybe somebody will say, 'Why should the ambassador of Morocco give a dinner for Congressman Zablocki?'" began Bengelloun. "My answer is that we met some time ago. He is a wonderful man."
The way Zablocki put it over cocktails a short while earlier - "I know what it is Morocco wants, but you better ask the ambassador" - was that Bengelloun has had no problem getting in to see him the first time they met.
"That impressed him," said Zablocki. "You see, I see all foreign dignitaries since that's my job."
Zablocki said he never kidded himself about how he happened to be at parties like the Moroccan dinner. Last year, he attended 79 functions, fulfilling a vow of his to "be accessible and respond. If I'm the vehicle for others to government, then I should serve as such a vehicle."
The guest list, which Zablocki said he had no part in drawing up, was studded with all sorts of people who dabble in foreign affairs one way or another - the ambassadors of Mexico, Argentina and the Netherlands; former U.S. ambassador to Germany George McGhee; Former deputy director of the CIA Vernon Walters; journalists Joseph Kraft and Deena Clark; Rep. Millicent Fenwick (R-N.J.); hotelier Marshall Coyne; former chief of protocol Lloyd Hand, and Associate Justice Byron White.
Mexican Ambassador Hugo Margain, said the deposed shah of Iran was expected to stay in Mexico for "a number of months," providing his own security in the Acapulco residence of his sister. "We thought it would have been unfair to have received him as shah, then turn a cold shoulder. He was an important any.
But it was Zablocki who clearly was the man of the hour, and honor "not so much for me as for the Congress of the United States," he told guests in his response to Bengelloun's toast. And smoothing some ruffled feathers perhaps as much as setting the record straight, he assured his host that "we are deeply appreciative of what your country has done in the relations in the Mideast. I can assure country played a consultative role to guide us on the right path."
Said Percy, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, arriving late from the Senate vote on Rhodesian sanctions, "His sense of humor, his earthiness always makes us feel good. The beauty of Clem is he's a simple fellow." CAPTION: Picture, Rep. Clement Zablocki, left, and Morocco Ambassador and Mrs. Ali Bengelloun; by Harry Naltchayan - The Washington Post