Shall I Compare Thee to a Mogul?

September 27th, 2008 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »


You may actually agree with the FT‘s House & Home lead article on our Presidential contenders’ houses. It describes (and illustrates) their main digs and states, “(T)he places they’ve chosen to make their homes can easily be seen as symbols of the different ideologies.

Don’t think sharecropper’s shack here. Both are rich guys — one by joint lawyer’s pay and two top-selling books, and the other by marrying, shall we say, wisely.

Occasional Plug Repeat:  Regular readers here or at Marry in Massachusetts know I suggest subscribing to The Nation and the Financial Times. The FT, particularly the weekend edition, has much more than business numbers and analysis. I think it has the best political columns anywhere. It’s not expensive, but if you don’t subscribe at least go online and get hooked there. For this piece, you need to see the print edition for the house pix.

The answer that John McCain flubbed in an interview is eight. He (probably more like his heiress uxorial unit) owns eight houses. There’s no count on the total bedrooms, but I wonder whether they ever wake up feeling as disoriented as I did when I used to travel a lot on business. Coming to unsure what direction your head is pointing can do that.

For house voyeurism, the FT justifies its gawking with vetting from McGill history professor Gil Troy. [Surely you must enjoy the elegance of being able to introduce yourself as, “I’m Gil, from McGill.”] He specializes in U.S. Presidents and contends that thing like where they live “…do affect a candidate’s world view.”


The Obamas have lived in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago. He and then they were in the lower end of housing in this mixed area. Three years ago, they bought a $1.65 million brick Georgian revival (four fireplaces and a wine cellar). Yet the area is near the University of Chicago has blends of incomes, races, and ethnicities.

McCain claims his primary place is now the $4.6 million, 7,000 square foot condo in the Camelback Corridor outside of Phoenix.  It seems to be peopled by, guess who? — rich white Republicans.

The article figures the lessons here are:

With holiday homes in such pretty locations and a primary residence in the heart of conservative, consumerist, clubby America, it’s easy for detractors to claim that McCain lives in a pristine, privileged bubble. But Obama’s home sets him up for an equally harsh critique, with Hyde Park cast as an elite, liberal, academic community – its own post-modernist urban enclave.

Wait, wait, you want more? Flip the page and get to my wife’s won’t-miss weekend FT column, The Secret Agent. That is as in realty, not spooks.

Snark rules as usual here in discussing the domiciliary needs, desires and troubles of the stinking rich. While the houses, apartments, land and views discussed are real enough, TSA knows how silly the self-indulgent super-wealthy generally are.

This week, he or she (who knows; it’s a secret) reveals that our local and exported financial panic and reality hits right below the very top, but still pretty high. The really, really rich knew this was coming and got their profits out and safe. Don’t fret. They don’t have to scrimp at all.

“No,” TSA write, “the people who are really suffering are the middle-ranking employees who support the high-end rental and the £1m-£5m sales markets in London. These are the men (and some women, of course) who saw great futures for themselves so lived happily on credit, overstretching to buy in Holland Park, Chelsea, Notting Hill or Fulham then investing in extensive upgrades at the top of the market. Or, instead, they paid obscene monthly rental rates for the super-luxurious flats they thought they deserved but could not yet afford.”

I trust you have tissues handy. Some of these people are unable to maintain or sell their overvalued luxury homes. As TSA shockingly states, “But, as ‘Doom’ and ‘Gloom’, my friends who were made redundant by Credit Suisse and Morgan Stanley earlier this year, will testify, the supply of well-located houses with under-floor heated limestone bathrooms and all the other trimmings – the very type of properties they’ve been trying to sell for months – is already far above the demand for them.”

Well, there you have it. The very best people — oh, not really, but almost the best, or still pretty, formerly high end — might have to move into one of their lesser homes. Lackaday.


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