President Obama loves having protesters disrupt a big-dollar fundraiser and interrupt his train of thought. Or at least he thought the stunt at a fundraiser in San Francisco Thursday morning was “funny,” according to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Here’s what happened at the $35,800-a-ticket event at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco, according to pool reporter Carol Lee of The Wall Street Journal: Obama was in the middle of his remarks when a woman in a white suit stood up and said, “Mr. President, we wrote you a song.” He tried to get her to wait, but she persisted and the table of 10 broke into song – a protest over the treatment of accused WikiLeaker, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was held for nine months at the Marine brig in Quantico, Va., where he was kept in isolation 23 hours a day.
The song went like this (with thanks to Carol for transcribing):
Dear Mr. President, we honor you today, sir
Each of us brought you $5,000
It takes a lot of Benjamins to run a campaign
I paid my dues, where's our change?
We'll vote for you in 2012, yes that's true
Look at the Republicans – what else can we do?
Even though we don't know if we'll retain our liberties
In what you seem content to call a free society
Yes it's true that Terry Jones is legally free
To burn a people's holy book in shameful effigy
But at another location in this country
Alone in a 6-by-12 cell sits Bradley
Twenty-three hours a day is night
The Fifth and Eighth Amendments say this kind of thing ain't right
We paid our dues, where's our change?
The 10 singers then passed around 8-1/2 x 11 signs that said "Free Bradley Manning" or had a photo of him. The woman in the white suit then stripped off her jacket to reveal a black T-shirt saying “Free Bradley Manning,” plus his image. White-suit woman was then escorted out; two of the other protesters left on their own. The rest of the protesters stayed and applauded at the end of Obama’s speech, according to Ms. Lee.
“That was a nice song,” Obama told the crowd.
Though maybe he wasn’t so enamored of the stunt after all. Lee’s report indicated that Obama looked “displeased.”
“Now where was I?” Obama asked.
Then he appeared to agree (somewhat) with the protesters, at least on the subject of change. "Over the last 2-1/2 years,” Obama said, “change turned out to be tougher than we expected."
Indeed, Obama has been taking grief from his liberal base for more than a year, starting with concessions on health-care reform, followed by allowing a continuation of Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy. Now, the treatment of Manning, who is accused of leaking classified documents to the WikiLeaks website, has proved a major flash point for liberal activists (and former State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley who resigned/was fired for publicly expressing outrage over Manning’s treatment).