OK, so much for politics. Let’s go back to the beginning of the day and see what actually happened out on the streets as Obama blitzed from stop to stop through San Francisco like an Olympic sprinter.
The president’s whirlwind speed-dating of San Francisco was even more fast and furious than usual, with three fundraisers inside two hours and 25 minutes:
Obama Schedule || Monday, November 25, 2013
10:30 am || Arrives San Francisco
11:35 am || Delivers remarks on immigration reform; Betty Ann Ong Chinese Recreation Center
1:10 pm || Delivers remarks at a DNC fundraiser; San Francisco Jazz Center
2:00 pm || Delivers remarks at a DNC fundraiser; private residence; San Francisco
3:30 pm || Departs San Francisco
(…and on to two more fundraisers in Los Angeles that evening.)
I did my best to keep one step ahead of him the whole day.
Fundraiser #1: The Betty Ong Recreation Center
The immigration activists we saw earlier had gathered at Mason and Washington, which was the corner closest to the fundraiser, but from their vantage point it was impossible to see the precise spot where Obama was going to enter the building. Consequently, the handful of tourists who stumbled onto the scene all gathered further down Mason street, from where it was at least possible to see the “Presidential Tent” (as I call it — not sure of the structure’s official name), the white portable canopy which hides Obama as he enters any building.
Just when everybody started getting grumpy and bored, a convoy of roaring motorcycle cops zoomed up, the unmistakable signifier of a presidential motorcade’s imminent arrival.
I tried to film Obama’s limousine as it entered the tent, but at that exact moment the police officers assigned to us starting yelling at everyone to get back on the sidewalk, and my camera was jostled:
Turns out I had chosen the wrong side — the dozen or so rubberneckers uphill from the tent got to see all the action, while we downhillers watched in awe as a veritable battalion of security forces large enough to conquer a decent-sized nation filled the street for several blocks.
There were a great deal of mysterious shenanigans as frantic Secret Service agents climbed in and out of armored vehicles, while beat cops scanned the skyline for interlopers.
Finally a clean perimeter was established, and it was only at this point (I’m quite sure) that Obama was permitted to exit the vehicle, which by now was safely and invisibly ensconced inside the Presidential Tent.
Shortly thereafter a tent flap was briefly opened and I was able to snap this long-distance photo of the inner sanctum: fire extinguishers, but no president.
I then returned to the protest corner, and as I approached I noticed a new sign right next to Obama’s fundraiser that must have been posted by the same programmers that made healthcare.gov.
I rarely report on spoken words or conversations which I can’t document with an accompanying video, but in this case I’ll make an exception. As I was standing next to this guy, I overheard him say the following sentence: “I spent a year following Romney around, writing libelous articles about him and Photoshopping pictures to make him look like an idiot.” You ever wonder what hardcore political “operatives” look like? Behold.
On the roof of the Betty Ong Recreation Center, Secret Service snipers scanned the surrounding rooftops for any suspicious characters. Keep this picture in mind as we move on to the other two events.