Fundraiser #3: The Home of Marc Benioff
The final stop on my (and Obama’s) whistlestop tour was the Pacific Heights home of billionaire businessman (and major Democratic Party donor) Marc Benioff. I’ve covered several previous visits by Obama to this exact address over the last two or three years, and in every case there were hundreds of media/rubberneckers/protesters/supporters/attendees clustered around the barricades. Per my experience, I was expecting a crowd — perhaps the biggest crowd of the day.
Instead, when I arrived at Presidio and Pacific, this is the scene that greeted me:
One media member (a bored cameraman with nothing to film), and one local resident out walking her dog and curious why the street was blocked off. Grand total: two. And this was about half an hour before the event was set to begin, so the area should have been at its most crowded.
Thinking I must have gone to the wrong corner, I asked where the “other entrance” was, and the cops pointed me to Walnut and Washington, which they said was the designated protest zone. But when I arrived, as you can see, the only people to greet me were some parking valets and traffic cops.
I surveyed the entire perimeter of the cordoned-off security zone, and finally met two more rubberneckers (also passersby frustrated that their intended walking route had been blocked) at Jackson and Presidio.
So, all told, there were five (including me) people outside Obama’s biggest event of the day — and three of them were there by accident.
Actually, that’s not true. Remember at the first event how the Secret Service forbade any random strangers from overlooking the president’s location from a higher vantage point? Well, once again they allowed unknown people — in this case three construction workers repairing a neighbor’s house — to look down on Marc Benioff’s residence. Why?
And then once again, here came Obama in the same motorcade. This time, however, there was no one else around, so I got a better video of the passing vehicles:
I didn’t glimpse Obama himself, but I did clearly see the “shadow president” Valerie Jarrett in the back of the second “Presidential Limousine” (there are always at least one, and sometimes as many as three, “official”-seeming dummy limousines in any presidential motorcade). Obama must therefore have been in that same limousine with her; a figure can be seen dimly in the seat next to her, which must have been him. She’s visible at 0:32 in the video. (I later confirmed it was her after seeing news reports showing her deplaning from Air Force One earlier in the day with the same hairdo and same collar.)
If you aren’t able to freeze the video at the exact moment, here are a couple freeze-frames of the shadow president and the shadowy president next to her.
The presidents then turned the corner into the billionaire’s home, and were gone.
Adding up all the protesters/supporters/tourists/rubberneckers/media at all locations at all three events, I calculated (40 immigration activists and media + 20 downhill gawkers + 12 uphill gawkers + 100 Keystone protesters + 15 drone protesters + 4 dudes discussing ticket prices + 2 people on Pacific + 2 people at Jackson + 3 construction workers + me) that exactly 199 people greeted Obama in San Francisco (not counting the paid attendees at the fundraisers, of course). Which means that aside from the hardcore Democratic Party donors and progressive activists, Obama’s visit to San Francisco went almost completely unnoticed.