The New York Times has an entertaining story about how Mitt Romney’s visits to the beachfront home he bought in 2008 in posh La Jolla have some of his neighbors grumbling and bummed, and for good reason. The idea that a possible future president would have a second home in a place as crowded as La Jolla is crazy. It’s not Key Biscayne or San Clemente or the Bush or Kennedy compounds. I’ve driven past Romney’s home and been flabbergasted at the idea it could be the Western White House. But beyond making this valid point, the article also has two really funny passages. One involves an anecdote about Romney confronting a pot-smoking beachgoer. The other has the Times quoting Darrell Issa in a way that makes the high-profile Vista Republican congressman look like a total liar.
Local lawmakers are largely unmoved by the neighbors’ complaints, especially those with long memories. Darrell Issa, the Republican congressman who represents parts of San Diego County, can still recall when President Nixon, during his first year in office, purchased a waterfront mansion in nearby San Clemente, Calif. La Casa Pacifica, as Nixon called it, was quickly rechristened the Western White House.
Like his presidency, Nixon’s presence in town was deeply polarizing. “Some people were thrilled,” Mr. Issa said. “They’d be down at the Mission Restaurant and Nixon would be 10 paces over. And other people would say: ‘I can’t get a decent chair. The Secret Service is taking them all.’ ”
In 1969, Darrell Issa was in high school in Cleveland Heights, Ohio, where he remained until Nov. 1, 1970, when he dropped out of school to enter the military, per a Wikipedia page that mostly feels like it was posted by his staff.
Issa was not, repeat, not in the San Diego/San Clemente area when Nixon started showing up at his Western White House.
But I bet it wasn’t Issa lying. I bet it was NYT editors polishing the piece by reporter Michael Barbaro and turning an observation by Issa about what he’d heard about the effect of Nixon’s arrival in San Clemente into an anecdote that made it sound like this was something that he knew of through personal experience.
I’ve reached out to Issa’s staff — and to Barbaro — to find out.