Even Obama wouldn’t ruin a great weekend with house-hunting


Obama at home, in a sense. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)

The weekend of June 13 through 15 of this year wasn't particularly remarkable. It was Father's Day weekend, the weather was nice in most parts of the country. Oh, and in between rounds of golf at increasingly exclusive locales, the Obamas may have bought a new house.

Probably not, though. The Los Angeles Times picked up rumors suggesting that the Obamas had purchased a house in Rancho Mirage once owned by author Joseph Wambaugh. (Do you want to see pictures of the house? Yes, of course you do.) To do so, it is suggested, the Obamas took advantage of a quiet weekend stay in the gated community where the house is located.

We went back and looked at the White House pool reports to put together a timeline of just when the Obamas (or an Obama, at least) might have checked out their future residence. And we made a map, because this sort of thing shouldn't be taken lightly, even though the White House categorically denied the rumor to the Times.

Friday, June 13

The Obamas arrive in Palm Springs at 6:28 local time. They make their way to Thunderbird Heights, "a gated community of private homes hard against the mountain," as the pool reporter put it. The reporters stayed near the entrance to the community while the Obamas went ahead to the private residence where they stayed the weekend. The Desert Sun speculates that it was maybe the home of "designer Michael Smith and his partner, James Costos, the U.S. ambassador to Spain appointed by Obama." This isn't confirmed, but, interestingly, Smith decorated the Oval Office for the Obamas.

At 7:15 p.m., a lid is called, meaning that the president is not going anywhere else. The sun set that night at 7:58 p.m., offering more than enough time for a twilight visit.

Saturday, June 14

By 7:30 a.m. (after the sun had been up for two hours), according to the Desert Sun, Obama was at the workout room at Thunderbird Country Club.

At 8:13 a.m., Obama departed the community for various events. However, the pool reports notes that he "left the First Lady back at Rancho Mirage."

He arrived at a fundraiser in Laguna Beach at 9:45 a.m., then headed to Angels Stadium in Anaheim to speak at a college commencement. By 2:05, he was back at the airfield in Palm Springs.

At 3:10, Obama left the residence to head to Sunnylands Center for a round of golf with Joe Paulsen and Marvin Nicholson. At 6:55, in the "slanting evening sunlight" in the evocative words of the pool reporter, he headed back to the vacation residence.

Sunday, June 15

At 9:04 a.m., Obama headed to the 249-acre estate of Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, for which Ellison paid $42.9 million in 2011. It has its own golf course, where Obama played another round with Nicholson and Paulsen. Pool: "It is 79 degrees, absolutely perfect golf weather." Bully for them.

At 2:09 p.m., Obama left Porcupine Creek Estate (as it is called) and headed back to Thunderbird Heights. At 2:34, a lid is called. But there's one more pool report: a read-out of Obama's call with the King of Spain.

Monday, June 16

At 9:30 a.m., the Obamas depart their vacation home to head back to DC.

All told, there were about 21 hours that Obama had to tour any nearby homes for sale. For Michelle, that number was much higher. But, according to the White House, they didn't. And so that's that.

Philip Bump writes about politics for The Fix. He previously wrote for The Wire, the news blog of The Atlantic magazine. He has contributed to The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Daily, and the Huffington Post. Philip is based in New York City.
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