Dreadful news from Foggy Bottom: The absolutely perfect diplomatic appointment, the one we've dreamed of for years, is about to be diminished forever. The State Department is selling the spectacular 14-acre Chelston estate, residence of the U.S. consul general in Bermuda, for $12 million to $13 million.
The posting, which requires no heavy lifting, has long been fought over by worthy political contributors because of the splendor of the estate, which has a cozy 10,000-square-foot, four-bedroom house with private beaches, terraced gardens and incomparable views.
The new consul general, Michigan Democratic heavyweight Larry Owen, will be living in a relatively tiny 6,000-square-foot rented house on a paltry three acres and no ocean frontage.
On the other hand, the move will make the job even easier. In addition to handling the annual Fourth of July party, one of the most difficult duties of the consul general over the years has been to coordinate guests, not only at the main house but also at the two-bedroom guest house, a beach cottage and two apartments in the old stable and carriage house. This should cut down on the flow.
The sale, likely to be completed Oct. 31, is pure profit for the government, which had listed the property for $15 million. Chelston, which cost $40,000 a year to maintain, was given to the United States in the 1960s by the heirs of an American oilman. The State Department hopes to reuse the money to get at least decent housing at some posts where the career foreign service people, the ones who do the heavy lifting, are living in places even HUD might declare substandard.
For Owen, an East Lansing lawyer, it's been a rocky start. He was all set to fly down last month to be sworn in Sept. 20 but the ceremony was delayed several days because of Hurricane Gert.
It's Time to Redress the Gores
We've been receiving suggestions in recent days for what costumes Vice President Gore and Tipper Gore should wear at their annual Halloween party for the press Oct. 31. So it must be time for the Loop's Third Annual Gore Halloween Party Costume Contest.
The Gores always wait until the last minute to figure out what to wear. (This year they're no doubt even busier than usual.) They've gone as Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein, werewolves and mummies. Obviously they're in need of creative help.
So send in your suggestion--one entry per person--for the perfect costume for the Gores. Entries "on background" will be accepted. The top five winners will be announced here and receive those museum-quality In the Loop coffee mugs.
Please mail suggestions to In the Loop, The Washington Post, 1150 15th Street N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071 or via e-mail to Loop@Washpost.com. Entries should be postmarked or e-mailed no later than Friday, Oct. 22, to give our judges time to review them and forward to the Gores for guidance. Don't forget to include home and work telephone numbers on your entries. Good luck!
To Helms, Treaty Debate Comes Down to Monica
At the end of debate Wednesday night on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) cited several high-level officials from previous administrations who opposed the treaty, saying he would rather rely on them than "three overseas people who don't know anything about our country," an obvious reference to British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who signed on to a New York Times op-ed piece pushing for ratification.
Then Helms said: "Because, after all, the president could pick up the phone and say, 'Look, Tony, I've got a problem over here, got a hat full of worries, how about sending me a little old letter?' I know Tony will say, 'Yes, I'll do that. Give Monica my regards.' "
The reference to Monica S. Lewinsky was excised from the Congressional Record. Fortunately, modern technology has trumped that little custom and the comment was played again and again on television.
Lott, Thinking the Unthinkable
Meanwhile, although lots of Democrats were upset by the Senate's resounding defeat of the treaty, some of President Clinton's judicial nominees were doubtless delighted by the debate.
Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-Miss.), rolling the Democrats to get to a vote on the treaty--which the Democrats had sought to put off--said: "Sometimes we come up with agreements that allow things to go to another day. Sometimes we strive mightily and we can't reach that. And sometimes," Lott concluded, "you just have to fulfill your constitutional responsibility and you just vote."
Good news for nominees waiting nearly four years for a vote?
It's Official . . .
Clinton has nominated Air Force Gen. Richard Myers, head of the U.S. Space Command, to be vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, succeeding Air Force Gen. Joseph W. Ralston, who has been nominated to succeed Army Gen. Wesley Clark as NATO supreme commander. Air Force Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart is the pick to replace Myers at the space command.
Federal Transit Administrator Gordon J. Linton, whose six years in the position makes him the longest-serving in the job since the program began in 1961, is leaving to form his own consulting firm.