I would really like to hear the argument for why this was worthy of significant newsroom resources, without any newsroom resources being expended on investigating the residences of any other potential candidates for president. What is vital about the public’s right to compare, at the flick of a mouse, its smaller dwellings to the large house the Romneys built with their own money, in California? We are instructed that it is quite tacky to care about the amount Michelle Obama spends on her many vacations, despite the fact that she’s spending our money, but a custom tool for comparing your residence to a former Republican candidate’s residence. Can do! And, pronto. I’m sure the tool for comparing your vacation hovel to FLOTUS’ vacation villas is forthcoming.
One of the great things about having Mitt Romney back in the news is that we get to relive some of the more fun parts of the 2012 campaign, up to and including discussion of his houses. If I say to you, “car elevator,”* what comes to mind? If you were awake that year, you remember the kerfuffle over Romney’s Southern California beachfront property that was reported to have included this unusual amenity.
The Boston Globe explored Romney’s post-2012 real estate boom earlier this week, including a look at that house, all 11,206 square feet of it in La Jolla, Calif. It’s a beautiful property, in a beautiful location, that we would not begrudge anyone for owning — although if that owner then started railing against income inequality, we might then raise one eyebrow, just a bit.
We realized, though, that we don’t really know how big 11,000 square feet actually is. In order to get approval to build the home (it was an upgrade from a smaller version), Romney’s architect had to submit plans to the state, in part because it abuts the coast. Thanks to those plans, we can see exactly what the joint looks like — and, more excitingly, just how big it is.
That is exciting. The Post has already gotten pushback, as it should. It’s painfully obvious, though the Romney floorplans are public information, that the desire to package them in this way is driven by the frisson of guilt-free, ideologically satisfying class warfare the Post and everyone who indulges in this enjoy for plugging in their square footage. I hesitate to even bring attention to this, but what it reveals about the media must be pointed out in preparation for 2016. The Post gets defensive:
We will note (in response to some harrumphing) that we are happy to make similar comparisons to the homes of other elected officials, if floor plans are publicly available. Plans for the Clinton homes don’t seem to be.
If there were only a profession that specializes in digging up formerly private information about public figures and making it public. Hmmm.
In the absence of the Clintons’ floor plans, let me offer some other simple tools for the WaPo’s tech team that include public information.
“How many people has Michelle Obama taken on vacation with her on someone else’s dime? Here, compare it to the size of the posse you took on vacation with you for free!”
“How many days was President Obama on vacation this summer? Here, compare it to your vacation!”
“How many rounds of golf did the president get in this month? Compare it to your tally!”
“How many of your homes could you buy for the price of the Obamas’ $1.65 million Chicago home? Here, compare it to your cheap house!”
“How many of the White House’s extravagant menu items were on your family’s menu this month? Here, compare your middle-class dreck to the good stuff!”
“How many of your salaries will fit into the taxpayer-funded retirement and salaries the Clintons are pulling down right now? Here, compare your paltry income to a miniscule fraction of theirs!”
I mean if we’re concerned how out of touch the not-yet-running Romney is, why are we not concerned about the Obamas or the Clintons, who are at least as relevant as Romney? Because they’re Democrats. End of story.
*I’m not even getting into the fact that any kind of elevator in the home of a person with a disability such as Ann Romney’s MS would be completely off-limits if they weren’t Republicans.
Update: They didn’t even get it right. Gee, I wonder if they made it bigger or smaller than Romney’s actual house.