A New York Times Home & Garden story this morning had the co-hosts of Morning Joe debating its worthiness of the paper's motto on: "all the news that's fit to print."
The article didn't offer gardening tips or summer cottage decorating ideas, of course. It outlined the grievances that Mitt and Ann Romney's neighbors in the well-to-do San Diego enclave of La Jolla hold against the ongoing renovations to the Romney's $12 million home (remember the car elevator?), as well as some of their politics, particularly when it comes to gay marriage.
Neighbors, it seems, grumble that the Secret Service takes over their crowded block when the Romneys are in town, while others worry the renovations will block their ocean views. Apparently Romney doesn't care for the pot-smoking ways of some of the more laid-back California residents in his 'hood and has taken to reporting them on occasion.
A few choice passages from the Times piece:
So now, after overcoming the distrust of social conservatives and evangelical voters to clinch the Republican nomination, Mr. Romney must win over another constituency, one that his campaign team never anticipated, polled or targeted: disaffected neighbors…
Three houses away from Mr. Romney is Mark Quint, a Democrat who said that he is tired of watching neighboring homeowners bulldoze small beach houses to make way for McMansions, fearing a “nightmare of construction.” He sees a discrepancy in Mr. Romney’s ambitious renovation plan.
“The only thing he wants small is government and taxes,” Mr. Quint said. “He likes big houses, big families and big religion.”
Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough felt the article wasn't worthy of the Times' high-quality journalism standards, while co-host Mika Brzezinski argued the Romney house was fair game.
It certainly reads as more of a Vanity Fair piece than The New York Times and the ending quote from a Secret Service agent bothers me as a sort of third-hand cheap shot at Mrs. Romney (“You’ll be fourth in line behind Mrs. Romney,” he retorted playfully. “She’s always asking, ‘When will you do my car?’ ”).
But, Americans want to know who they're electing to the White House, including what their character is, their habits, and how they live their lives and interact with others. The Romney's building of a $12-million house in La Jolla is certainly fair game, as is their interaction with gay neighbors.