President Obama sprinted through San Francisco on June 6 to attend yet two more high-end fundraisers. And I dogged him every step of the way.
Although Obama studiously avoided mentioning the Wisconsin election results during either of his speeches in S.F., Tea Party protesters rubbed his face in his party’s painful defeat yesterday, as we shall soon see.
Protesters — from both the right and the left — vastly outnumbered supporters wherever Obama went in the city. But at my first stop, most of the accidental rubberneckers had no idea which celebrity was responsible for the annoying street closures. “What’s all this for? Some politician?” asked a passing San Franciscan as Obama’s motorcade approached. “President Obama’s showing up,” I replied. “Oh. Again?” he shrugged as he walked away.
Obama has been to the Bay Area to withdraw cash so many times this campaign season that everyone seems to have lost count.
Interestingly, the Occupy Wall Street movement was nowhere in sight and seems to have completely faded from the political landscape, even though both fundraisers were in buildings that Occupy actually vandalized in earlier times.
Let’s follow Obama on his visit to the ATM known as San Francisco.
His first stop was a mysterious high-ticket fundraiser for 25 unknown donors at One Market, a skyscraper on the Embarcadero. While several hundred protesters (visible in the far distance) futilely awaited Obama’s motorcade at the building’s front entrance, I knew from experience that the Secret Service always sneaks him in the back way. So I maneuvered myself to the rear of the building, where I was almost completely alone.
When the cops started blocking unwitting pedestrians with barricades, under the direction of guys wearing business suits with sunglasses, American flag pins, and earphones, I knew I had hit paydirt — this was going to be the entrance point.
A bomb-sniffing dog from the K-9 Unit checked out every possible hiding place — another sure sign that the motorcade was going to pass this way.
After 20 minutes or so a cluster of onlookers had gathered, almost all of whom were there by chance. One by one I had informed them of Obama’s arrival, and the word spread. A few stuck around to catch a glimpse of the most powerful man in the world. As his motorcade approached, a couple of young ladies stepped into the street, and the cop was like, “Whoa whoa whoa, are you out of your mind? Do you want to get shot? Get back on the sidewalk!”
They stepped back, but the cop moved in to ensure compliance.
Hilariously, at this exact moment, an open-topped tour bus ran the barricade on the other side of the intersection, and was directed by tense cops down a side street. Never before was the cliché, “Move along, nothing to see here” more appropriate. Apparently neither the driver nor the tourists had the slightest clue that they missed seeing the president by just a few seconds.
The first of two identical limousines drove by. People waved and yelled. But as an old Obama Hand I know that he’s almost never in the first limousine — he’s in the second one. I squinted through the window and saw that I was correct — it was a body-double.
Then the actual presidential limousine cruised past. Interestingly, not only were the two vehicles visually identical, but they even had the same license plate number (800 002). Strange!
As you can see from the people across the street, the misdirection worked pretty well — most people were waving at the first limousine, while Obama went unnoticed.
But that was definitely him in the back seat. His jug ears gave him away, despite the poor visibility.
“Hello, Mr. Body Double!” everyone waved at the first car, as Obama slipped past them in the second.
Obama himself gave a perfunctory wave to my side of the street, though he had turned his head to talk to the guy next to him.
The crowd of blockaded pedestrians had grown to a couple hundred people; some decided to wave at the second limousine, just in case, even though he wasn’t really visible from that side of the street.
Obama finally turned his head to observe the passing peons. Too bad each of us didn’t have a spare $35,800, so we could actually see him in person! I guess that’s a privilege reserved for the elite.
The person next to me reached out a desperate, pleading hand. It seemed symbolic of something, though I’m not sure what.