Obama ignores ordinary Californians, treats Silicon Valley as cash reservoir
California’s huge Democratic majority is getting snarkier and snarkier about President Barack Obama’s many visits to the San Francisco Bay Area.
The chief executive was in San Francisco and nearby Silicon Valley in mid-June for his 13th trip since entering office. His visit was exciting news for the party faithful, who like nothing better than an opportunity to mingle with the top brass.
But, once again, Obama spent his time — not with ordinary voters at free public events — but with the money crowd that continues to add big bucks to party coffers.
In Obama’s June foray, to benefit the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, he began with an evening reception at the Palo Alto home of Flipboard CEO Michael McCue and his wife, where tickets started at $2,500 per person. For a follow-up “intimate” dinner at the Portola Valley home of Vinod Khosla, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, and his wife, some 100 guests were asked to kick in a mere $32,400 apiece.
McCue’s home is in San Mateo County, and Khosla’s is in Santa Clara County. Both are in Silicon Valley, that fabled area of high-tech businesses and executives with money to burn.
According to newspaper accounts, records show that on every one of 13 San Francisco-area trips as president, Obama has not missed an opportunity for fundraising. His only two Northern California non-fundraisers, in 2010 and 2011 at the defunct Solyndra plant and at two Palo Alto town halls, were by invitation only and not open to the public. His last “public” free events were prior to the 2008 election, when, as a candidate, he held rallies for thousands of voters in Oakland across the bay and Marin County, north of San Francisco.
The Obama visits have been in marked contrast to those of Democrat Bill Clinton, who, when president, mixed fundraising with public appearances in dozens of San Francisco visits. During one such trip he embarked on a shopping excursion in Chinatown, to the delight of bystanders.
By way of contrast, former Republican President George W. Bush did not descend on San Francisco once during his two terms in office. Offended citizens suggested (rightly) that Bush knew San Francisco was a lost cause for the Republicans and therefore it wasn’t worth his time (probably also right).
With all sorts of issues, such as the recent secret gathering of Associated Press reporters’ phone records, the IRS scandal and the continuing questions over responsibility for handling the Benghazi attack, Obama critics within his own political party keep suggesting it is time the San Francisco public is able to confront him.
The unrest at Obama’s continued unavailability raises an interesting question: Will the widespread criticism result in any significant changes in the Bay Area’s presidential voting patterns?
Of course not. San Franciscans have preferred Democrats as presidential candidates by at least a 70 per cent margin since the 2000 election and haven’t given the nod to a Republican candidate since Dwight D. Eisenhower ran in 1956.
It is true that the results of a California Field Poll, released in late July, showed Obama’s approval rating in the strongly Democratic Bay Area had declined from 65 per cent but still remains at a solid 60 per cent. Additionally, there was no indication in the poll that his lack of public appearances here has had any effect on his approval rating.
However, the continued carping of party members and leaders may have some effect on the schedule involved in the next Obama trip to the Bay Area. And, who knows? The public may glimpse Obama trekking through Chinatown to pick up souvenirs for his wife, Michelle, and their two daughters, Sasha and Malia.
Mary Louise Giblin Henderson is a former political reporter for The Daily Sentinel. She is retired and now lives in Nothern California.