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Posted at 06:08 PM ET, 02/07/2012

The State Department: Better at diplomacy than real estate?


The impressive Chelston property (JP Rouja/LookBermuda)
Back in 1999, we bitterly opposed the sale of the spectacular Chelston estate, residence of the U.S. consul general in Bermuda.

“The absolutely perfect diplomatic appointment, the one we’ve dreamed of for years, is about to be diminished forever,” we wrote then.

The job requires no heavy lifting — Bermuda’s population is only about 70,000 — and you don’t need to be confirmed by the Senate.

Sure, you’re not going to be called “Mr. Ambassador” or be able to use “The honorable” before your name. (Though some people do.)

Even so, mega-contributors such as former Democratic National Committee finance chairman Bob Farmer have coveted the posting for years, in part because of the splendor of the seaside manse: a 10,000-square-foot main house with three guests cottages and a staff cottage — 15 bedrooms and 19 baths in all.

You get private beaches, terraced gardens, amazing water views and a huge swimming pool on the 14-acre estate. Did we mention the wood-burning pizza oven?

And the only thing you’ve got to do is host a Fourth of July party and invite about 3,000 people. (Must be a big oven.)

And you play host to lots of guests. These reportedly have included: President George Bush, Vice President Dan Quayle, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass), the late senator Edward Kennedy and former senator Chris Dodd, former secretaries of state Colin Powell and Henry Kissinger and actress Brooke Shields.

But in a fit of budgetary zeal, the State Department sold it anyway, for a lousy $12 million — locals at the time said that was a steal — and moved the consul general to a virtual bungalow in town with no views.

Bad enough to shatter our dreams, but then, browsing Tuesday’s edition of the island’s on-line paper, the Royal Gazette, we were stunned to see this: “A former home of the U.S. consul general has been put up for sale with a $45 million price tag.”

Nearly four times what the State Department sold it for? Next time maybe they’ll listen.

But probably not.

By  |  06:08 PM ET, 02/07/2012

 
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