Beyer Farewell Was Hot Hot Hot!
Neither heat nor humidity will stop Virginians from honoring a favorite son, it seems.
But if you're the party host, you might reasonably worry. When President Obama appointed Don Beyer as his ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, friends threw together a fete to celebrate his swearing-in Wednesday -- with the August exodus in full swing. Host David Abshire feared no one would show. Looking out at the 200-some people sweating in his Old Town Alexandria back yard, he said, "This is testament to these two wonderful people."
The former lieutenant governor and his wife, Megan, got a grand bipartisan sendoff from the commonwealth's political elite: John Warner, Chuck and Lynda Robb, Jim Moran and Abshire, the former NATO ambassador now leading the Center of the Study of the Presidency. (Fun fact: Abshire's historic townhouse was used in the filming of the Kevin Bacon movie "Hollow Man.") Only notable absence: Mark Warner, stuck on the Senate floor. Robb called Beyer "one of the quality appointments of the 21st century." Moran called it "a terrific choice. They're fun and the Swiss are going to love them."
The newly minted envoy, who launched his political career from the family car dealership he built in Northern Virginia, was an early and ardent supporter of Obama's, raising more than half a million dollars. He and his wife -- who leave for Bern next week with their two teenage girls -- seemed thrilled. "It's awesome," said Beyer, grinning hugely. Megan noted that the family will finally get to catch up on their skiing -- they missed last season because of the inauguration, the previous one because of the Iowa campaign.
But . . . Switzerland? Why not send the Volvo dealer to Sweden? Not possible, he said. "It's a conflict of interest." Beyer told us he's gotten some grief in the Swiss press, of the they're-sending-a-car-dealer? flavor. He shrugged it off: "Well, I'm not a career diplomat."
Guests at the party (white wine, shrimp, mini-burgers with cheddar instead of Swiss, for some reason) lingered long after dark, making plans to visit the Beyers at the embassy. "We'll probably see more of these folks there than we see now," Megan said with a laugh.
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