Obama Dodges S.F. Protesters, Leaves Through Side Door
Presidential visits are a big deal, even in big cities like San Francisco: As president, George W. Bush never visited us.
But after President Barack Obama's reception Tuesday -- where some prominent Democratic Party donors joined the motley crew of protesters outside the W Hotel's Third Street entrance, howling at the president -- it's a wonder if Obama chooses to stop by again.
Not that it was evident to the general public that he was here at all. Not once did the president show his face to anyone but the 200 supporters who paid as much as $7,500 to lunch with the president, going as far as to slip out a side entrance on his way back to SFO and to the friendlier confines of Denver.
This, less than three years after fervor for the president in the 415 was so high that political pranksters renamed the entire length of Bush Street "Obama."
The dodge means the president's only public remarks in deep blue California were delivered on The Tonight Show, where host Jay Leno asked the president about fried chicken and reality television.
The pair briefly discussed the job market and the death of Moammar Kadafi (seriously, how do you anglicize this guy's name?) but did not delve into any of the topics which brought protesters outside the W's Mission Street entrance: a natural gas pipeline, the Occupy movement, and Obama's Justice Department's widening crusade against medical cannabis.
"What do you expect?" asked Mickey Martin, an East Bay cannabis activist and onetime target of federal prosecution for his marijuana edibles company. "They've done this before."
We've scoured the series of tubes, and not once has Obama been questioned publicly about his administration's reneging on a campaign promise not to interfere with state-legal medical marijuana. Nor has he taken the initiative to explain his administration's odd flip-flop.
Turns out, some state officials can't be brought to say anything, either: A tepid statement from Attorney General Kamala Harris, and nothing at all from Gov. Jerry Brown as to what state-law-abiding marijuana cultivators ought to do. "This is getting a little Kafkaesque for my blood," Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, (D-San Francisco) said at a press conference held earlier in the day. "We're trying to elicit from response from our chief lawmaker, and engage in some conversations with the governor, and right now zip is happening. This is a slap in the face to everyone who supported Proposition 215."
Obama's exit took most of the protesters by surprise. Word filtered slowly, as the well-dressed donors shuffled outside the hotel's front exit, that the presidential motorcade had already exited through a back alley to Howard Street, en route to the freeway headed to SFO.
Holding a sign outside the W, medical-cannabis user Eric Franks thought "we'd see his limo, at least."
"There was a lot of people here, and we've had enough," Franks said. "What he's doing is appalling."
Follow us on Twitter at @TheSnitchSF and @SFWeekly