Obama Gets It Left and Right in San Francisco

Left-handed compliments and right-handed slings await presidential visit

By Joe Rosato Jr.
|  Thursday, Oct 15, 2009  |  Updated 12:15 PM PDT
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Obama Gets It Left and Right in San Francisco

MG Siegler

Lefty O'Doul's is just one of the San Francisco institutions welcoming President Obama.

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Everyone has an agenda when the president's in town.

But Nick Bovis just wants Barack Obama to have a nice meal.

Across the street from the St. Francis Hotel, where Obama is expected to hold a private fundraiser tonight, the manager of Lefty O'Doul's restaurant hung a 30-foot banner welcoming President Obama. The sign reads "Lefty O'Doul's Welcomes Obama, the 8th lefty president of the United States." And in another message unlikely the president will ever see, the banner also read "All left-handed presidents eat for free today. "

From the left and from the right, the Bay Area would never miss an opportunity for a good protest. The arrival of President Obama is as good an excuse as any.

San Francisco's Union Square is ground zero for the President's wide array of "welcoming" parties, representing the political spectrum.

It's likely Obama will slip into the St. Francis Hotel with nary a glance at the groups demonstrating across the street, but that won't stop anyone from trying to make their point.

"We are not an anti-Obama group," said Don Belcher of Single Payer Now, a healthcare activism group. "We're just trying to get the message across the California wants single-payer healthcare. "

Belcher and his group of demonstrators will include doctors, nurses and other health reform activists. They want the federal government to allow state's to create their own single-payer system, regardless of which health plan Congress decides on.

Belcher and his demonstrators will likely rub elbows with members of the female activist group Code Pink, who never miss a chance to protest. Known for their brazen ability to disrupt everything from national speeches to Congressional meetings to recruiting centers, they plan to unfurl a banner in Union Square.

Their message to the president: Develop an exit strategy from Afghanistan.

"Rather than continuing violence with a troop surge in Afghanistan and continued drone attacks over Pakistan, Obama should promote real peace in the region by furthering economic stability and justice," said the group's national organizer Rae Abileah."

Liberal leaners won't be the only ones trying to catch the President's figurative ear. Conservative members of "Tea Parties" will also be among the expected throngs. Oranizers say conservative demonstrators will come from across the Bay Area and San Joaquin Counties.

"Protesting Obama in SF is my way of saying thank you to those who stood up in DC," said Pleasanton resident David Miller. "I'm paying it forward in hopes my small act will somehow inspire another patriot to keep fighting or perhaps cause one elected official to give pause before supporting Obama's leftist agenda."

Somehow Miller doesn't seem likely to show up at Lefty O'Doul's.

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