Outgoing and, by all accounts, semi-retired, President Obama is reportedly eyeing a home in Rancho Mirage listed at $4.25 million, and the first couple might be closing before the month is out.
The home is supposed to be in escrow, reports say, and its located in a gated community where classic entertainers of the bygone era like Frank Sinatra, Bob Hope and Bing Crosby once hung their fedoras and golf putters.
The White House has denied the rumors, which doesn’t mean they aren’t true, but unless someone plans to run afoul of the 22nd Amendment, come January, 2017, the Obama clan have to find a crib somewhere not located at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Wherever the Obamas move, they will have an affect on the property values in the neighborhood they pick.
(I invite them to Plano, Texas, where they can move in next door to my place and I can be the “Hey Barry!” neighbor who drops in with wacky schemes and plans, always getting Barry into hot water with Michelle.)
When President George W. Bush came home to Texas, he chose Preston Hollow, a high-end neighborhood in Dallas nestled next to two of its most expensive suburban enclaves.
I wrote about it for the city magazine here, D Magazine, and it should give some insight into what the future neighbors of the Obamas will have to deal with.
Security in the post-9/11 world for ex-presidents is a lot more severe, for starters, and it does affect both neighbors and locals.
Here’s how it affected Dallas.
The generic statement from the U.S. Secret Service about having “as little impact on citizens, neighbors, and neighborhoods as possible” wasn’t very helpful. But their evasiveness is to be expected. It says it right there in the name: secret.
Rob Saliterman, communications director for George W. Bush’s office in Dallas, was likewise oblique. He was only able to say the former president will spend most weekdays in Dallas. Except when he doesn’t.
[I] turned to Ronald Kessler, former writer for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post, and the New York Times bestselling author of “Inside the White House: The Hidden Lives of the Modern Presidents and the Secrets of the World’s Most Powerful Institution”; “Laura Bush: An Intimate Portrait of the First Lady”; “A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush”; and 14 other books with the word “inside” somewhere in the title.
Critics won’t like hearing this, but Kessler says President Bush is well aware of the effect his presence has on people, and he doesn’t like it. “He is very thoughtful,” Kessler says. “He doesn’t like inconveniencing people.”
Here’s how to cope with that inconvenience:
Can I Get a Picture, Mr. President? If you see President Bush in public, a good way to get a cement kiss is to run up to him digging in your pocket for your cellphone camera. Even if you know him—say you were in the oil bidness together back in Midland or owned that baseball team together—you’d best ask the nearest Secret Service agent if you can approach. Look for the guy with sunglasses, earpiece, suit, and the bulge under his jacket.
I’m Late for Work. What Is This Gridlock? It’s probably not him. When the former president is being driven around town, they won’t close down roads like they do for the current president. At most, you’ll see rolling roadblocks at intersections. A lower profile means better security.
Why Is There a Chopper Hovering Over My Pool? No one in officialdom will talk much about this one, but it’s likely that President Bush will use neighbor Tom Hicks’ heli-stop to fly short distances, like to Crawford. Hey, you borrow your neighbor’s weed wacker, right? For fixed-wing flights, he’ll likely go to Love Field, just like you and me. Unlike you and me, he’ll probably use a friend or supporter’s plane.
How Does He, Um, Eat? With his mouth. But seriously, President Bush doesn’t enjoy going to restaurants for lunch or dinner, because he feels weird when people watch him eat. He’ll likely just order hamburgers delivered from somewhere near his office. (Hello, Snuffer’s.) If it’s a scheduled lunch or dinner in public, the Secret Service will run background checks on guests, restaurant employees, and anyone else involved, and the area will likely be secured. If it’s a surprise drop-in, agents will take up positions outside and inside the restaurant while the former president dines with his guests or noshes while reading a book. No lockdown. And, no, he’s not a king. He doesn’t travel with a food taster. Laura likes to dine out at the best—though not necessarily fanciest—places. Expect to see her at Herrera’s and the Porch.